Walk Up Music for the July Trade Deadlines Top Buyers

It’s All Over Now – The Rolling Stones (the cover was their first #1 hit)

The July 31 (Non-Waiver) Trade Deadline has passed and, as always, there was a flurry of activity as contenders looked to bolster their squads for the division races and post season – and non-contenders looked to bring new prospects into their systems.  In this post, Baseball Roundtable will take a look at some of the most significant acquisitions – made by the most active “buyers.”  Here’s my take on the nine teams that most improved their chances to be a part of the 2017 post-season – with a Walk-Up Song for each.

YANKEES – GRADE: A

Gray Skies Are Gonna Clear up – from Tony Bennet’s “Put On A Happy Face”

Sonny Gray Photo by Keith Allison

Sonny Gray    Photo by Keith Allison

The Bronx Bombers – in a battle with the rival Red Sox for the AL East – added pitching and power. They won the sweepstakes for much sought after right-handed starter (2015 All Star) Sonny GRAY of the A’s and added lefty starter Jaime Garcia (67-52, 3.65 over nine seasons) from the Braves (after Garcia made a one-appearance cameo with the Twins). Those moves addressed the Yankees’ biggest shortcoming – starting pitching.

The Yankees, however, did not stop there.  The pinstripers also added bullpen strength in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox. Robertson is a former closer, with a 2.95 ERA over 561 career appearances, while Kahnle boasted a 2.50 ERA in 37 appearances this season.   And, to put just a little frosting on the cake, they picked up veteran power hitter Todd Frazier – also from the White Sox.  It was quite a July haul for the Bombers.

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DODGERS – GRADE: A

It Had to Be Y(o)u … Frank Sinatra

It had to be Yu Darvish. Photo by mikelachance816

It had to be Yu Darvish. Photo by mikelachance816

While they may have the best record in baseball, the Dodgers did not rest on their laurels – they were wheeling and dealing right up until the final bell. In fact, at the bell, they picked up the top prize of the trading season – four-time All Star RHP YU Darvish from the Rangers.  Darvish makes an already strong rotation even stronger; fills a temporary void left by Clayton Kershaw’s stint on the DL; and sets up a post-season rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

But Darvish isn’t the only factor in Los Angeles’ “A” rating. The Dodgers also needed to bolster their portside bullpen options.  They earned a Tony Award there, with the acquisition of lefty relievers Tony Watson from the Pirates (3.66 ERA in 47 appearances this season) and Tony Cingrani (a 17-save season in 2016) from the Reds.  Watson is likely make the biggest difference of that pair.

So, the team with the best record in baseball got even better.  That’s clearly worth an A.

WHAT’S THE BIG HURRY?

For those who don’t know why there is such a rush to beat the deadline – trades after the July 31 Non-Waiver Deadline get a bit more complicated.  Before the deadline, teams can make trades without putting the affected players on waivers. After July 31, traded players must clear (revocable) waivers. This means any other team may claim the player – with claims considered in reverse order the teams’ won-loss records. The team with the worst record gets the first opportunity to make a claim, the team with the second-worst record (if the first team does not make a claim) gets the next opportunity and on up the line.

If a claim is made, the team putting the player’s name up can: 1) Make a trade with the claiming club; 2) Let the player go to the claiming club for no return; 3) Keep the player (take him off waivers). So, in order to make a preferred trade, the player has to make it through the waivers process (at least up the line to the waiver position of the team that the offering team wants to deal with.)

NATIONALS – GRADE: B+

Feelin’ Stronger Everyday – Chicago

The Nationals may be running away with the AL East, but they recognized the need to build a STRONGER bullpen (with its ERA north of 5.00) if they were going to advance in the post season. (Read, “Get past the Dodgers.”)

They earned a solid B+  by getting that job done.  The Nationals added Twins’ All Star closer Brandon Kintzler (28 saves this season) and two relievers from the A’s:  Ryan Madson (a 12-year veteran with a 2.06 ERA with Oakland this season and a 30-save season in 2016) and Sean Doolittle (an All Star closer for the A’s in 2014.)  Suddenly, a weakness has the potential to be a strength.

Earlier in July, Washington also added versatile Howie Kendrick – a dependable bat off the bench – who was hitting .340 in 39 games for the Phillies at the time of the trade. Kendrick a 12-year MLB veteran has a career average just over .290.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE … FROM “BUYER” TO “SELLER”

The Twins went into their July 24 game with a 49-48 record, trailing the AL Central leading Indians by just 2 ½ games.  In the trade deadline market, they were buyers (not sellers) announcing the acquisition of Braves’ starting pitcher Jaime Garcia to bolster a suspect Minnesota rotation.  A week – and five losses in six games –  later,  the Twins were 50-53, seven games out and had become “sellers.”   Garcia, after just one start (the team’s lone win while he was on the Minnesota roster), was gone to the Yankees. Soon after, Twins’ All Star closer Brandon Kintzler (and his 28 saves) was on his way to the Nationals.

CUBS – GRADE: B+

This Could be the Start of Something Good – Exile

jOSE qUINTANA photo

Jose Quintana –   Photo by Keith Allison

The defending World Champions, who recently chased down the Brewers to take first place in the NL Central, made one of the earlier moves of the July “trading season,” acquiring STARTer Jose Quintana from the White Sox. The 2016 All Star was off to a bit of a rough start this season (4-8, 4.49 for the ChiSox), but went 2-1, 2.37 in three starts since moving across town. He should provide plenty of quality starts down the stretch and into the post season.

The Cubs also added reserve catcher Alex Avila and southpaw reliever Justin Wilson from the Tigers.  Avila provides a bit more punch from the backup-backstop spot, but the gem in the Tigers’ trade is Wilson – a proven power arm for the pen. At the time of the trade, Wilson had a 2.68 ERA in 42 appearances and had fanned 55 batters in 40 1/3 innings.

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DIAMONDBACKS – GRADE B

The Force Behind the Power – Diana Ross

jd MARTINEZ photo

Photo by GabboT

The D-backs added Tigers’ slugger J.D. Martinez (hitting .305-16-39 for Detroit) – adding a veteran POWER source to the lineup.  Martinez was the best offensive player moved in July.  Martinez’ bat bolsters the middle of the D-backs’ lineup and provides much-need protection for Arizona MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. (Martinez hit five home runs in his first nine games for the D-backs.)

The D-backs also traded for A’s utility player Adam Rosales – to compensate for injuries to the infield corps – and added  veteran reliever David Hernandez from the Angels (2.23 ERA in 38 appearances this season) to help out in the bullpen. Not as flashy as some of the other contenders, but positive additions. Considering where the Dodgers are, the Diamondbacks are fighting for a Wild Card spot – and Martinez should win a few games for them.

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RED SOX – GRADE: B

Sparks Will Fly – Rolling Stones

Boston added depth to their offense by picking up Eduardo Nunez from the Giants. Nunez brings plenty of offensive SPARK.  In 2016, he hit .288, with 16 home runs and 40 stolen bases for the Twins/Giants – and he can hold his own defensively at multiple positions. The Red Sox also added hard-throwing southpaw Addison Reed to serve a key setup role in the pen. Reed consistently fans 1+  batters per inning and has 125 MLB saves to his credit.  Still, the Yankees appear to have won the July trade market battle – and perhaps the East Division as well.

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ROCKIES – GRADE: B-

Catcher in the Rye – Guns and Roses  (Dang, couldn’t come up with a Pat song)

Like Arizona, Colorado is a legitimate Wild Card contender. (Unfortunately, in the AL West 14 games over .500 leaves you 14 games out of the division lead.) The Rockies took a cautious approach to the July trade market, but did add to the offense and the bullpen.  Veteran reliever Pat Neshek (a two-time All Star with a 2.77 ERA over 11 seasons), acquired from the Phillies, should give the Rockies some solid innings. Neshek was an All Star this season and brought a 3-2 record with a 1.12 ERA to the Rocks.

In addition, the acquisition of CATCHER Jonathan Lucroy (Rangers) gives the Rockies a veteran presence to help a young pitching staff.  Lucroy – who hit .292, with 24 home runs, in 2016 – has the potential add to the offense (particularly in Coors’ light air).  At the time of the trade, he was hitting .242, with four homers and 27 RBI (in 77 gamers) for the Rangers. He’ll need to up is game to help the Rockies.

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RAYS – GRADE: B

Zip-A-Dee-“DOO-DAH ” – Johnny Mercer

lucas duda photo

Lucas Duda.     Photo by slgckgc

The Rays are trying to stay in the AL East chase, but a Wild Card spot seems more likely.  They added a needed power-bat in 1B/OF Lucas DUDA from the Mets. Duda is a solid 20-30 home run power source – and hit three homers in his first four games as a Ray. In addition, the Rays bolstered their bullpen with the acquisitions of three veteran arms in Sergio Romo (who was having a rough season with the Dodgers, but has a career 2.79 ERA over 10 campaigns);  Steve Cishek (who was carrying a 3.15 ERA with the Mariners and has a 2.81 ERA over eight MLB seasons) and Dan Jennings (with a 2.88 ERA over six seasons).

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ROYALS – GRADE: C

Hey, Hey, We’re the Melky(s) – The Monkees (Okay, I took some liberties here>)

The Royals reinserted themselves into the AL Central race and became buyers in the July marketplace. They added MELKY Cabrera from the White Sox. Cabrera was hitting .295-13-56, typical of the production you can expect from him.  The Royals also bolstered the rotation by picking up Trevor Cahill form the Padres (where he had a 3.69 ERA in 11 starts this season). Newcomers Brandon Mauer (Padres) and Ryan Buchter (Padres) may provide bullpen help.  Overall, Cabrera is likely to be the biggest difference maker. Still looks like the Indians have too much to be overtaken.

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JULY WRAP – One team rakes at a .323 pace, another puts up a 2.60 ERA.

It’s August 1, which means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s look back at July – the stats, the stories and the highlights. We could call July Dodger Month, Beltre Month, Altuve Month,  Paxton Month or maybe even Devers Month.  Here are a few notable highlights:

  • Adrian Beltre had a milestone month – picking up his 3,000th base hit (July 30); 5,000th total base (July 7); and 1,600th RBI (July 14). Better start clearing a sport on the wall at Cooperstown.
  • The Dodgers went a sparkling 20-3 for the month, expanding their NL West Division lead to 14 games over the Diamondbacks.
  • The Astros’ Jose Altuve’s month of July included a 19-game hitting streak, during which he hit .524.
  • James Paxton was the only pitcher to win six games – going 6-0, with a 1.37 ERA for the Mariners – who went only 8-12 in the games Paxon didn’t start.
  • Boston Red Sox’ rookie Rafael Devers was a .296 hitter over four minor league seasons, but he appears to like major league pitching even better. The 20-year-old made his major league debut on July 25 (becoming MLB’s youngest active player) and, in six July games, hit .417 (10-for-24) with two home runs, four RBI and four runs scored.
  • The Astros hit a remarkable .323 at a team for July (the only team above .300), while the Dodgers put up a stingy 2.60 ERA for the montk (the only team below 3.00).

Still, the best moniker for July might be trade deadline month – as lots of players were moved as we approached the July 31 trade deadline.   We’ll take a look at all this and the month’s highlight and statistical leaders coming up.  But first the standings and Baseball Roundtable’s Players and Pitchers of the Month.

COMING SOON:  Baseball Roundtable’s look at July trades.

THE STANDINGS

The Dodgers went 20-3 for the month (an .870 winning percentagte) and are now 74-31 on the season – the only team playing .700 ball. Pitching led the way for the boys from LA, as their 2.60 earned run average was far and away the lowest in MLB for the month. While the Dodgers 107 runs scored in July ranked 22nd among MLB teams, they still managed to outscore the opposiution by 38 runs.  Leading the way for the Dodgers in July was the now DL-ed Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 0.72 ERA); the surpising Rich Hill (4-0, 1.45); and, of course, Kenley Jansen with nine saves in ten opportunities.

If you are looking for offense, the Astros rode a month in which they led the majors in runs scored (174); batting average (a resounding .323); and home runs (44) to a 15-9 July record – depite MLB’s ninth worst ERA for the month (5.08).  Leading the way for the Astros were Jose Altuve (.485 for the month); George Springer (.403); Alex Bregman (.329); and Evan Gattis (.322).

Other squads putting up solid July results (at least 15 wins) wer the Cubs and Nationals (16-8), Royals (16-10) and Indians  (15-11).

The worst July record belonged to the White Sox (6-19) in the AL and the Reds (8-18) in the NL.

If the season ended July 31, your playoff teams would be.

AL:  Division Leaders – Yankees, Indians, Astros. Wild Cards: Red Sox and Royals.

NL: Division Leaders: Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers; Wild Cards: Diamondbacks anad Rockies/

Notably, there are three competitive division races: In the NL Central, the Cubs lead the Brewers by 2 ½ games; in the AL Central the Royals are two games back of the Indians; and in the AL East, the Yankees jhold just a ½-game dge on the Red Sox.

A full chart of July 31 standings and month of July won-lost records appears at the end of this  post. 

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BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE PLAYERS AND PITCHERS OF THE MONTH

NL Player of the Montrh – Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

I love those players who give you plenty of offense AND defense and no one does it better than four-time (in four seasons) Gold Glover at third base Nolan Arenado. He’s also a two-time NL RBI leader (and current 2017 leader) and two-time league home run champ. So, what did he do to earn Player of the Month for July? He hit .389, with eight home runs, 18 runs scored and an MLB-leading 30 RBI (in just 22 games played). Also under consideration were Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon, who hit .370, with seven home runs, 13 RBI and an MLB-leading 29 July runs scored. Blackmon also had three triples in July, adding to his season total of 13 three-baggers – six more than the next-best total.  I also took a look at the Marlins’  RF Giancalo Stanton. who led MLB with 12 July home runs – to go with a .289 average and 23 RBI. 

NL Pitcher of the Month – Rich Hill, LHP, Dodgers

This was a tough choice, but I went with Dodgers’ veteran Rich Hill. He went 4-0 in five starts (no NL pitcher won more than four games in July), with a nifty 1.45 ERA (behind only fellow Dodger Clayton Kershaw and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola among National Leaguers with at least 25 innings pitched in July).  The 37-year-old southpaw also walked just five batters, while fanning 40, in 31 innings. Also in the running were Kershaw (3-0, 0.72 in four starts); Nola (3-1, 1.32 with 43 strikeouts in 34 innings); and Max Scherzer (3-0, 2.84 with a league-topping 50 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.)

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

What can you say about a guy who hits an MLB-leading .485 for the month, raps out an MLB-tops 48 hits, gives you a little power (four home runs) and speed (eight stolen bases), while also scoring 22 times and driving  in 21? Jose  Altuve’s July totals incuded a 19-game hitting streak, during which he hit .524, with ten doubles, one triple, four home runs, 21 runs scored and 19 RBI. Clearly, Altuve does it all – and is a deserving Player of the Month.  Also considered were Rangers’ 3B Adrian Beltre who – as noted earlier –  achieved several milestone including his 3,000th MLB hit.  At age 38, Beltre went .341-4-14 for the month.  Clearly, twenty years into an MLB career and Beltre can still rake.   Orioles’ 2B Jonathan Schoop was also on the radar for this recogition after a .343-9-28 month of July. 

AL Pitcher of the Month – James Paxton, LHP, Mariners

James Paxton photo

Photo by hj_west

Mariners’ southpaw James Paxton put up stellar numbers in July – going 6-0, with a 1.37 ERA in six starts.  (Numbers which look even better given Seattle’s 14-12 record for the month.) Paxton also fanned 46 batters, while walking just six, in 39 1/3 Innings. The 28-year-old Paxton is now 11-3 on the season, with a 2.68 ERA.  So, how does it add up?  For July, Paxton was in the AL’s top five  in starts, wins, inning pitched, strikeouts and ERA. Coming into 2017, Paxton was 18-15, 3.43 in fifty MLB starts over four seasons.  Also in the running was Red Sox’ ace Chris Sale (3-1, 1.04 with a league-leading 56 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.)  

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NOW FOR SOME JULY HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT GOES AROUND, COME AROUND

On July 15,  Cody Bellinger become the first Dodgers’  rookie to hit for the cycle – going four-for-five  – with the requisite single, double, triple and home run – notching three RBI and two runs scored in a 7-1 Dodgers’ win over the Marlins. It was the first four-hit game of the 22-year-old rookie’s career – and his 26th home run of the season. For a look at all the MLB rookies who have hit for the cycle, click here.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE HOME RUN – HOW ABOUT A WALK-OFF WALK

Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger added four home runs to his rookie-season total in July – and ended the month at 28.  However, it wasn’t all about the long ball. On July 8, Bellinger propelled the Dodgers to their 60th win of the season (the first team to reach 60 wins in 2017) by waiting out a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the tenth inning – giving  the Dodgers a 5-4 win over Rays in LA.  Of course, as it seems is always the case this year, the long ball did play a part. Bellinger had tied the game with a home run in the bottom of the eighth. Keep an eye of this rookie.  After nine home runs in May and 13 in June, he slippeed to four in July.  Time for some adjustment?

LOOK OUT JOE! HERE COMES THE JUDGE!

Aaron Judge YANKEES photo

Photo by apardavila

On July 7, Yankees’ rookie phenom Aaron Judge hit his 30th home run of the season – eclipsing Joe DiMaggio’s Yankee rookie record of 29 home runs – with plenty of season left. Judege ended July with a stat line of .303-34-75 – leading MLB in home runs and slugging percentage and topping the AL in runs scored and walks. Oh yeah, and he won the All Star Game Home Run Derby.

 

 

CRUZIN’ TO NUMBER 300

On July 7, Seattle DH Nelson Cruz hit his 300th roundtripper as the Mariners bested the Oakland A’s 7-2 to snap an eight-game losing streak – it was his 16th home run of the season and his second in July.  He finished the month with seven July homers, 21 on the season and 305 career blasts.

WOMEN BELONG IN BASEBALL

On July 15, Stacy Piagno made her first start on the mound for the  Sonoma Stompers of the  (independent) Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs – as they took on the Pittsburg Diamonds. Piagno pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on four hits and notching four strikeouts as Sanoma prevailed 16-1.  With that outing, Piagno became the third women to notch a professional baseball victory since the 1950s – following Ila Borders and Eri Yoshida to victories from the hil.

HOW ABOUT SHOWING A LITTLE RESPECT

Max Scherzer - ambushed by the Diamondbacks. Photo by Keith Allison

Max Scherzer –
ambushed by the Diamondbacks.
Photo by Keith Allison

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer came into his July 21 start against the Diamondacks with an  11-5, record and a sparkling 2.01 ERA.  The Diamondbacks showed the Nationals’ ace very little respect, however.  After three batters and just ten pitches, the Diamondbacks had three homne runs and a 3-0 lead.  Leadoff hitter/RF  David Peralta homered to deep  right, followed by CF  A.J. Pollock’s blast down the left field line and 3B Jake Lamb’s RF home run. The three round trippers tied the MLB record for consecutive home runs to start a game.

How unexpected was the three-homer barrage? Scherzer had allowed just one home run over 34 2/3 innings in his past five starts. Scherzer did settle down and lasted five innings (eight hits, two walks, five runs and nine strikeouts – no decision) as the Nationals fell to the D-backs 6-5.

PARITY?

The MLB All Star competition is as even as can be: 43 AL wins, 43 NL wins, two ties – AND both teams have scored exactly 361 runs ovr the 88 games.

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

On July 23, The Orioles’ Zach Britton set a new AL record by converting his 55th straight save opportunity – pitching a scoreless ninth in a 9-7 win over the Astros.   Britton extended his record with saves (versus the Rangers) on July 29 and July 30.  He’s still a long way form the MLB record, however.  That belongs to  the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne, with 84 straight  conversions from August 28, 2002 to July 3, 2004.

A BALANCED ATTACK

Carlos Santana Indians photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On July 24, 1B Carlos Santana provide some well-blanced offense for the Indians.  The switch hitter homered both left-handed and right-handed, as the Indians stopped the Reds 6-2. It was the fourth time in his career that Santana had homered from both sides of the plate in the same game. For those interested – through June of this year, the feat had been accompliehdd 312 times at the major league level.  In 2017 alone, the Indians have accomplished it four times (Jose Ramirez twice, Francisco Lindor and Santana). Others to go yard from both sides in a game this season include the Yankees’ Aaron Hicks, Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez, Blue Jays’ Kendrys Morales, Dodgers’ Yasmani Grandal and Phillies’ Freddie Galvis. Nick Swisher and Mark Tiexiera share the MLB record for career games with home runs both left- and right-handed at 13.

 

MINOR LEAGUE NO-O-OTE

On Sunday, July 23, the Rookie Level Gulf Cost League (GCL) Nationals used four pitchers to throw a pair of seven-inning no-hitters. In Game One of a doubleheader (a 4-0 Nationals’ win over the Marlins), Joan Baez went six innings (no hits, one walk, seven strikeouts), with Jose Jimenez throwing the final frame. Game Two (Nationals 1 – Marlins 0) saw Jared Johnson go four no-hit innings (one walk, two strikeouts), with Gilberto Chu tossing the final three (no walks, four whiffs.)

A TRIPLE PLAY PRODUCES A RUN – A FIRST FOR FRAZIER

On July 25, in his first at bat at Yankee Stadium, Todd Frazier came to the plate in the bottom of the second inning, with the sacks full and no one out. Matt Holliday was on third, Didi Gregorious on second and Chase Headly on first.  All had reached via singles. Frazier, facing rookie starter Luis Castillo, hit a one-hopper to Reds’ SS Jose Peraza. Peraza tagged second for out number one, then threw to 1B Joey Votto for the second out.  As this traditonal double play was completed, Holliday scored from third. Things then got interesting. Gregorious, who had been on second, stopped between second and third and basically found himself in the proverbial “pickle” between Reds’ 3B Eugenio Suarez and Peraza.   In the end, the Reds recorded a 6-6-3-3-5-6 triple play and the Yankees recorded a run.  Ultimately, the Bronx Bombers prevailed 4-2 – but it was a pretty memorable first Yankee Stadium at bat for Frazieer.  It also was just the tenth time (in 712 triple plays) that a run has scored on an MLB triple killing.

BACK – TO BACK-TO BACK-TO BACK  … AND THEN SOME

On July 27, the Washington Nationals put an exclamaiton point on what some are calling “The Year of the Home Run” by tying a pair of MLB long-ball records – powering an MLB-record-tying four consecutive home runs and a record-tying five home runs  in an inning. The third-inning outburst led to seven runs as Washington topped the Brewers 15-2 in D.C.  It was the only the sixth time an MLB team has notched a five-dinger inning (and the eighth time a team had rappeed four consecutive home runs) and featured long balls by CF Brian Goodwin (his tenth of the season); SS Wilmer Difo (third of the season); RF Bryce Harper (27th); 1B Ryan Zimmerman (21st); and 3B Anthony Rendon (21st).  For full details on the other record holders, click  here.

WORKING ON THE SOUTH 40

No player has ever hit 40 home runs in a Royals’ uniform (they are the only team without a 40-HR player in their history), but Mike Moustakas seems to be on his way. On July 28, Moustakas ripped his 30th home run of the 2017 season – a three-run shot as the Royals topped the Red Sox 4-2 in Boston.  (It was the streaking Royals ninth straight win.)  The home run made “Moose” the fastest Royal to reach thirty long balls – coming in his 364th at bat of the season. Previously, another third sacker – Gary Gaetti – was the quickest Royal to thirty dingers in a campaign at 410 ats bats (in 1995).  Gaetti hit 35 that season, one short of Steve Balboni’s Royals’ record.  Nicknames seem to be all the rage for Royals’ home run hitters – Moustakas is known as “Moose,” Gaetti as “G-Man” or “Rat” and Balboni as “Bye Bye.”

 

——STAT TIME … FOR THE MONT OF JULY AND YEAR-TO-DATE (throogh July 31)—-

—–TEAM BATTING LEADERS … MONTH OF JULY—–

Average (MLB Average – .257)

NL:  Rockies- .297;  Marlins – .279; Dodgers – .275; Nationals – .275

AL: Astros – .323; Tigers – .280; Royals – 279

Runs Scored (MLB Average – 117)

NL: Rockies – 148; Marlins – 139; Nationals – 128

AL: Astros  – 174; Royals – 141; Indians – 135; Tigers – 135

WE’LL TAKE THE LOW ROAD

The White Sox and Angels plated the fewest runs in MLB in July – with only 88 runners  crossing the plate for each squad.  (The Reds were the lowest in the NL with 93 tallies.) The White Sox also had the lowest batting average for the month at .229; while the Giants showed the least power with an MLB-low 14 round trippers during the month. The Astros hit more than 100-points higher than the White Sox and bashed more than three times as many home runs as the Giants. 

Home Runs (MLB Average – 31)

NL: Cubs  – 40; Nationals – 37; Marlins – 35; Dodgers – 35

AL:  Astros – 44; Rangers – 41; Royals – 38

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 12)

NL: Brewers – 20; Reds – 15; Braves – 15

AL: Astros – 23; Royals – 22; Indians – 20

I THINK I’LL JUST WAIT HERE

The Mets attempted (and achieved) MLB’s fewest stolen bases in July – going three-for-five in steals. The Blue Jays had the worst rate of success – swiping four bags in eight tries.

Walks (MLB Average – 82)

NL: D-backs – 101; Reds – 96; Marlins – 91

AL: A’s – 112; Indians – 106;  Blue Jays – 105

GRABBING A LITTLE AIR

The Brewers led all of MLB in strikeouts in July with 254 whiffs – which equatea to just over ten per game. 

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS … MONTH OF JULY—–

Earned Run Average (MLB Average – 4.37)

NL: Dodgers – 2.60; Cardinals – 3.06; D-backs – 3.48

AL:  Red Sox – 3.24; Indians – 3.36; Mariners – 3.68

PUTTING UP SOME CROOKED NUMBERS

Eleven teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for July. The White Sox led (trailed?) all of MLB at 5.68, while the Rockies gave up an NL-leading 5.38 earned runs per nine innings.

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB Average – 117)

NL: Dodgers – 69; D-backs – 87; Cardinals -94; Pirates – 94.

AL: Indians – 94; Red Sox – 101;  Angels – 102

IT’S OUTTA HERE

Your team leader in home runs allowed in July was the White Sox – the ChiSox staff gave up 47 long balls; while the Reds topped the NL with 44. On the other side of the coin, the Dodgers gave up an MLB-low 17 July dingers.

Strikeouts (MLB Average – 209)

NL: Nationals – 229; Reds – 227; Brewers – 220

AL: Red Sox – 265; Yankees – 264; Indians – 251

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB Average – 82)

NL: Dodgers – 49; D-backs – 62; Cardinals – 64

AL: Twins – 65; Indians – 68;  Orioles – 72

LET ME TAKE YOU ON A FREE RIDE

The Blue Jays gave up an MLB-high 118 walks in July; while the Braves provided an NL-leading 108 free passes.  The only other teams to exceed 100 walks allowed were the White Sox and Marlins (106 each).    

Saves (MLB average – 6)

NL: Dodgers – 10; Padres – 10; five with seven

AL: Rays – 9; Mariners – 8; two with seven

OUCH!

The Diamonbacks had the worst save/opportunity percentage in July – blowing five of seven save opportunities – for a 28.6 percent success rate.  The MLB average for the month was 66.0 percent. 

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—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF JUlY—–

Average (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  Gerardo Parra, Rockies .443; Chris Taylor, Dodgers  – .394; Anthony Rendon, Nationals – .392

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .485;  George Springer, Astros – .403; Alex Pressley, Tigers – .380

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 12; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 9; three with eight

AL: Rougned Odor, Rangers – 10; Mike Moustakas, Royals – 9; Jonathan Schoop, Orioles – 9

IT SEEMS LIKE HE’S ALWAYS ON BASE

Among players with at least 50 July at bats, only two got on base at least half the time.  Your on-base-percentage leaders were: Jose Altuve, Astros – .523; Anthony Rendon, Nationals – .500.

RBI

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 30;  Marcel Ozuna Marlins – 27; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 23

AL: Jonatshan Schoop, Orioles – 28; Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox – 25; Mookie Betts, Red Sox – 23

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 29; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 26; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 25

AL: Alex Bregman, Astros – 24; Eric Hosmer, Royals – 22; Jose Altuve – Astros -22

WAIT FOR IT. WAIT FOR IT.

The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson was MLB’s most patient hitter in July – averaging 4.83 pitched per plate appearance – edging the Twins’ Joe Mauer at 4.82. 

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilotn, Reds – 11; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 9; four with five

AL: Rajai Davis, A’s – 9; Whit Merrifield, Royals – 9; Jose Altuve, Astros – 8

Walks

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 23; Paul Goldschjmidt, D-backs – 22; two with 19

AL: Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 20; Brett Gardner , Yankees – 20; Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 19

WAY BELOW THE M-LINE

The lowest average (minimum 50 June at bats) for the month went to the Twins’  Jorge Polanco at .078 (four-for-51).  

—–INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS … THE MONTH OF JULY—–

Wins

NL:  Seven pitchers with four

AL:  James Paxton, Mariners – 6-0, 1.37;  three with four

ERA (Minimum 25 July innings)

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers  – 0.72;  Aaron Nola, Phillies – 1.32; Rich Hill, Dodgers – 1.45

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 1.04; James Paxton, Mariners – 1.37; Sonny Gray, A’s – 1.48

GETTING UP THERE A BIT

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in July went to the Marlins’ Tom Koehler, who had four July starts and put up a 9.87 ERA in 17 1/3 innings. Using those same parameters in the AL,we find the  Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr., with an ERA of   9.64 in four June starts (18 2/3 innings). 

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer – 50 (31 2/3 IP); Aaron Nola, Phillies 43 (34 IP); Rich Hill, Dodgers – 40 (31 IP)

AL: Corey Kluber, Indians – 56 (34 1/3 IP); Chris Sale, Red Sox – 56 (34 2/3 IP); three with 46

Saves

NL:  Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 9; Greg Holland, Rockies – 7; A.J. Ramos, Mets/Marlins – 7

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 9; Edwin Diaz, Mariners – 8; two with seven

TOUGHEST OUTING OF THE MONTH

The Blue Jays’ Glenn Sparkman may have had the toughest outing of the month.  The rookie righty was brought into a July 2 game against the Red Sox in the top of the seventh and the Blue Jays already down 7-1.  Sparkman’s appearance went: single; single; single; strikeout; double; single; double; double. Ultimately, he gave up seven earned runs  in 1/3 of an inning – for a July ERA of 189.00.  In his only previous MLB apperance (June 30), also against the Red Sox, he went 2/3 of an inning, giving up no earned runs, despite allowing two hits and a walk.  There is clearly a potential for better things to come – Sparkman has a 2.65 ERA in five minor league seasons, with 267 strikeouts in 268 1/3 innings. 

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NOW THE YEAR-TO-DATE STATS (Still with me?)

—–TEAM BATTING … YEAR-TO-DATE LEADERS—–

Average  (MLB Average – .255)

NL:  Nationals – .275; Rockies – .274; Marlins – .266

AL: Astros – .292; Indians – .264; Yankees – .262

THAT’LL DO IN A PINCH

No  team pinch hits more successfully than the St. Louis Cardinals – whose batters have gone 45-for-141 in pinch-hitting appearances this season, leading MLB in pinch hits and PH batting average (.319).  Just down I-70, you’ll find the Royals, with the fewest pinch hits (two) and the lowest pinch-hitting average through July (.105). 

Runs Scored (MLB average – 490)

NL: Nationals – 575; Rockies – 564; Dodgers – 535

AL: Astros – 623; Yankees – 557; Rangers – 516

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

Only the Astros topped 600 runs (through July) at 623.  The Padres, on the other hand, have scored more than 200 times fewer than Houston, with San Diego notching just 400 runs. The Astros also lead the majors with 172 home runs, with the Giants the only team under 100 round trippers (82).

Home Runs (MLB Average – 132)

NL: Nationals – 158; Brewers – 156; Mets – 152

AL:  Astros – 172; Rangers – 160;  Rays – 154

A SWING AND A MISS

Only two teams had more than 1,000 batters’ whiffs through July: the Brewers (1,040) and Rays (1,037).  Looks like a tight race for the most free-swinging squad. 

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 55)

NL: Brewers – 89; Reds – 83; D-backs – 72

AL: Angels- 88; Rangers – 81; Red Sox – 65

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS … YEAR-TO-DATE (July 31)—–

Earned Run Average (MLB average – 4.35)

NL: Dodgers – 3.09; D-backs – 3.43; Cardinals – 3.82

AL: Red Sox 3.70; Indians –  3.71;  Yankees – 3.83

I’D GIVE IT A FIVE

Only two teams had ERA’s over five through July – The Reds at 5.28 and the Orioles at 5.07. 

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 490)

NL: Dodgers – 350; D-backs –  404; Cardinals – 445

AL: Indians – 409; Boston – 435; Yankees – 438

DODGERS’ STAFF AT THE TOP8888

The Dodgers’ rotation had the best starters’ ERA in the MLB (through July) at 3.25; while the Astros’ starters were best in the AL at 3.96.  In the bullpen, Cleveland ruled at 2.77.  The Dodgers had the best bullpen ERA in the NL (and second-best in MLB) at 2.83.

If you’re wondering why the Nationals (despite a big lead) were active in the trade deadline market for relievers, Washington was one of only two teams with a  bullpen ERA over 5.00 through July 31 – the Tigers at 5.25 and the Nationals at 5.05.

Strikeouts (MLB average – 866)

NL: Dodgers – 991; D-backs – 971; Nationals – 949

AL: Astros – 1064; Indians – 1022; Red Sox – 1007

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB average – 343)

NL: Dodgers – 275; Pirates  – 297; Cardinals – 314

AL:  Indians – 288; Red Sox – 293; Yankees – 318

PUTTING UP SOME GOOD RATIOS

Through July, the Dodgers lead the NL in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.60; while the Indians top the AL at 3.55. Other teams with a better than three-to-one ratio: Red Sox (3.44); Astros (3.16); Yankees (3.12); D-backs (3.02). Common denominator? We’ll likely see all of them in the post season.   Also, only two teams are averaging at least ten strikeouts per nine innings: Astros (10.18); Indians (10.01).  

Saves (MLB Average – 25)

NL: Rockies – 35; Dodgers – 33; Brewers – 32

AL: Rays – 35; Twins – 29; Blue Jays – 29

LETS CONVERT 

The major-league team average for save conversions through July was 64 percent.  No team was under 50 percent, but Texas (17-for-34) was right at the low-water mark.  

—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS YEAR TO DATE—-

Average (qualifying)

NL:  Justin Turner, Dodgers – .356; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – .332; Bryce Harper, Nationals – .329

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .368; Eric Hosmer, Royals – .323; Jean Segura, Mariners – 322

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 33; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 28; four with 27

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 34;  Mike Moustakas, Royals – 30; Justin Smoak, Blue Jays – 30

HE KEEPS HITTING THOSE THREES

The Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon has 13 triples through July – no other player has more than seven.

RBI

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 91; Marcell Ozuna, Marlins – 81; two at 80

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 79;  Jonathan Schoop, Orioles – 77;  Aaron Judge, Yankees – 75

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 93; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 86; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 82

 AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 83; George Springer, Astros – 82;  Jose Altuve, Astros – 74

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds – 44; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 38; Trea Turner, Nationals – 35

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels – 25; Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 23; Jose Altuve, Astros 22

LEADERS IN A FEW OTHER CATEGORIES

Base Hits: Jose Altuve Astros (AL) – 148; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (NL) – 141

On Base Pct: Justin Turner, Dodgers (NL) – .455; Jose Altuve, Astros  (AL) – .430

Slugging Pct: Aaron Judge, Yankees (AL) – .639; Bryce Harper, Nationals (NL) – .627

Strikeouts:  Miguel Sano, Twins (AL) – 144; Will Myers,Padres (NL) – 127

—–PITCHING LEADERS … YEAR TO DATE (July 31)—–

Wins

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 15-2, 2.04; Zack Greinke, D-backs – 13-4, 2.84; four with 12

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 13-4, 2.37; Jason Vargas, Royals – 13-4, 3.00;  two with 11

ONE (or more) THAT GOT AWAY

Rick Porcello of the Red Sox leads MLB in pitcher’s losses – with 14 losses (versus just four wins) to go with a 4.55 ERA (that would indicate he deseerved better).  Over in the NL the loss leader is the Padres’ Clayton Richard (5-12, 5.40).

ERA (qualifying) 

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.04; Max Scherzer, Natiounals – 2.23; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 2.66

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.37; James Paxton, Mariners – 2.68; Corey Kluber, Indians – 2.90

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 201 (145 1/3 IP); Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 168 (141 1/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 162 (139 2/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 211 (148  1/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 177 (142 IP); Corey Kluber, Indians – 161 (114 2/3 IP)

LIKE THE LONG BALL?

If you like big flys, show up when the Angels’ Ricky Nolasco or the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka are on the mound.  They share the MLB lead in home runs allowed at 27.

Saves

NL:  Greg Holland Rockies – 33; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 27; three  with 22

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 39; Brandon  Kintzler,Twins – 28; Robert Osuma, Blue Jays – 26

A PITCHER’S BEST FRIEND

No one has induced more double play grounders  this season (through July) than Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays with 23 … to go with a 9-5, 3.08 record.

 

JulyStandings

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

I tweet baseball @David BBRT

 

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

Baseball Reliquary 2017 Shrine of the Eternals Induction

reliquaryThe Baseball Reliquary – the national pastimes’ most fan-centric organization – Sunday (July 17) held induction ceremonies for its 2017 Shrine of the Eternals class.  Joining such already enshrined baseball luminaries as Roberto Clemente, Dizzy Dean, the San Diego Chicken, Bill James and Dr. Frank (Tommy John surgery) Jobe were: legendary Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully; player turned self-deprecating broadcaster Bob Uecker; and famously inept – but immensely popular – pitcher (and cartoon icon) Charlie Brown.

Also honored (for fan contributions) were Negro Leagues players advocate Cam Perron and (for contributions to preservation of baseball history) Latino Baseball History Project founder Dr. Richard Santillan.

The ceremonies – already established as a traditionally both raucous and reverent event – were held before a packed house of baseball fans at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena (CA) Central Library. They included musical performances (Take Me Out to the Ball Game) by the Symphomaniax (a musical quartet representing the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra); plenty of cow bell ringing; and a keynote address by award winning writer/journalist and Detroit Tiger/Mark Fidrych fan Dave Mersey.

Before taking a look at this year’s electees, I’d like to provide a brief overview of both the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals. If you are a baseball fan and not a Reliquary member, it’s time you considered joining this free-spirited (if somewhat eccentric) organization dedicated to celebrating the human side of our natinal pastime. (If you’ve been following Baseball Roundtable, you’ve read this pitch before.  Please bear with me.)  The Baseball Reliquary is a fan-focused organization committed to recognizing baseball’s place in American culture and to honoring the character and characters of the national pastime. It pursues that mission through its collection of artifacts, traveling exhibitions, ties to the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies and (perhaps, most visibly) through its own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame – the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary, click here.

The Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals

Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs from the HOF in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. The Baseball Reliquary believes that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability offers the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.  Criteria for “Shrine” election include: the distinctiveness of play (good or bad); the uniqueness of character and personality; and the imprint that the individual has made on the baseball landscape. Each year, the Baseball Reliquary submits a list of candidates to its members and the top three vote-getters are honored.

Now the 2017 honorees:

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2017 SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS HONOREES

 

Vin Scully (1927-  ) – 59.5%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

If anyone’s career is appropriate to a spot in the Shrine of the Eternals, its Vincent Edward “Vin” Scully – whose career as a baseball broadcaster was a close to eternal as anyone has ever come – 67 years behind the microphone. (Note: Scully’s total of 59.5 percent of the vote is the highest figure since the annual Shrine of the Eternals election process was inaugurated in 1999, topping the 53 percent totals of Bill “Spaceman” Lee in 2000 and Buck O’Neil in 2008.)  Scully was the voice of the Dodgers from 1950 until his retirement after the 2016 season, as well as NBC’s lead television broadcaster for much of the 1980s and the voice of the World Series for CBS radio in the 1990s.

I have never seen an exact count of the number of games Scully “called” during his career, but we do know he was on the broadcast team for 28 World Series, 21 no-hitters and three perfect games.

The fluid sound of Scully’s voice and his often poetic anecdotes, became as much the sound of major league baseball as the crack of the bat, the slap of leather ball into leather glove or the shouts of vendors eager to part with hot dogs or beer.

How impressive are Vin Scully’s credentials?  Here are just of few of the recognitions he has received: Baseball Hall of Fame Ford Frick Award (1982); Lifetime Achievement Emmy and induction into National Radio Hall of Fame (1995); three-time national Sportscaster of the Year (1965, 1978, 1982); American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame (1992) and Sportscaster of the Century (2000) recognitions; MLB Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award (2014); and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Again these are just a few of his recognitions. (Scully, for example, was also named California Sportscaster of the Year 32 times, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more than one street named after him.)  And now, he takes his place in the Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on Scully, try The Vin Scully Story, by Carl Smith (2009).

At times I’ll be listening to him and I’ll think, “Oh, I wish I could call upon that expression the way he does. He paints the picture more beautifully than anyone who’s ever called a baseball game.”

                                                                                        Dick Enberg

 

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Bob Uecker (1934- ) – 37%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Dubbed “Mr. Baseball” by TV talk show host Johnny Carson for his tongue-in-cheek approach to the national pastime, Bob Uecker finally has his seat “in the front row” – as  a Shrine of the Eternals inductee.

Uecker has clearly made baseball his life and Milwaukee his hardball home.  Born and raised in Milwaukee, Uecker grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers and signed his first professional contract with the major-league Milwaukee Braves (1956). Uecker – a catcher by trade – made his big league debut with the Braves in 1962 (after six minor league seasons, during which he played 557 games and hit .274, with 78 home runs and 254 RBI). In six major league seasons (Braves, Cardinals, Phillies), Uecker played in 297 games and hit an even .200, with 14 home runs and 74 RBI.

 

 

Bob Uecker has the ability to translate failure into success – particulary if that success is measured in good will and smiles.  His self-deprecating approach to having reached the ultimate level of the national pastime somehow brings us all a little closer to the game. 

Uecker retired as a player after the 1967 season and began a full-time career as play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 – a position he still holds. Over the years, he has also served as a baseball color commentator for ABC (1970s) and NBC (1990s); hosted a pair of syndicated sports television shows; appeared as broadcaster Harry Doyle in the “Major League” movies; and played a key character in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. Uecker received the National Baseball Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award for his work as a baseball broadcaster in 2003.

What separates Uecker from many former players-turned-broadcasters is his dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, of his original signing, he says “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for three-thousand dollars. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scrapped it up.”

Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit.

                                               Bob Uecker, reflecting on his MLB career

Uecker’s wit (and knowledge of and love for the game) not only earned him a spot in the broadcast booth, but also pop-culture stardom through dozens of appearances on the Tonight Show and a starring role in a series of Miller Lite commercials (as well as his movie and TV roles).

In addition the Ford Frick Award, Uecker was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame (2001); the Braves Wall of Honor (2009); and  on August 31, 2012, the Brewers erected the Uecker Monument outside Miller Park – alongside the statues of  such heroes as Hank Aaron and Robin Yount. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Uecker as Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year five times and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2011.  For more on Uecker, try his book “Catcher in the Wry.”

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Charlie Brown (1950-    ) – 25.5%

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Charlie Brown – created ty the late Charles M. Schulz – takes the field (the mound actually) for the love of the game – and in the process teaches us a lot about humanity and grace (under pressure and in the face of disappointment).

Brown is both the manager of the Peanuts baseball team and, almost always, its pitcher. While he imagines himself as possessing a blazing fastball, sharp-breaking curve and devastating change up, he usually ends up literally being upended and undressed by line drives up the middle.  Still, he shows up and takes his turn on the mound – with optimism – game after game, loss after loss, come rain or shine.   Despite decades of disappointment, Charlie has never lost hope – nor waned in his love of the game.

Charlie Brown is all about hope, optimism and perseverance. There is always the next contest or the coming season.  

Brown is truly the underdog’s underdog – even his favorite player reflects his approach to the game (and life).  It’s not Mantle, nor Mays, nor Trout, but rather little-known Joe Shlabotnik.  Yet, in his enduring passion for the game and his unbreakable spirit (in the face of what some say is close to 1,000 losses versus single-figure wins), we can all learn a lesson about the importance of optimism, perspective and perseverance in the face adversity. Note:  At their peak, Charlie Brown and his team’s exploits appeared in more than 2,500 newspapers in 75 countries.

There’s something lonely about a ball field when it’s raining.

                                                                                Charlie Brown

As is noted in the final line of Charlie Brown’s Shrine of the Eternals nomination “Yes, Charlie Brown may be a blockhead, but in his unshakeable belief in himself and his imagination, he will always be a winner.”  He clearly won enough hearts to take a place in the Shrine of the Eternals.

 

Scully, Uecker and Brown join 54 previous inductees to the Shrine of the Eternals. For the full list, click here.

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Additional Awards were presented to:

The Hilda Award – Cam Perron

The Hilda Award – established in memory of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers’ super-fan Hilda Chester – recognizes  distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. The 2017 Hildo went to Cam Perron.

As a middle-schooler, Perron began writing letters seeking the autographs of veteran Negro League players.  Perron’s early interest in the Negro Leagues quickly grew into a true passion for those too often unsung heroes of the Negro Leagues.  By his freshman year in high school, Perron was organizing annual Negro Leagues reunions, bringing together (and celebrating) players who had been out of touch (and, perhaps, out of mind) for decades. In addition to brining new light to the accomplishments of Negro Leagues heroes, Perron also has been a key force in securing pensions for many of the players through a program offered by Major League Baseball. A 2016 graduate of Tulane University, Perron, now 22-years-old, continues his research into – and promotion of – Negro Leagues players and history. In those efforts, he regularly communicates with former players. He was recently spotlighted on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

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Tony Salin Memorial Award – Dr. Richard Santillan

The Tony Salin Award – named in memory of the late baseball author and historian – recognizes individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history. The 2017 recipient, Dr. Richard Santillan, has taught Chicano Studies for the past 45 years in the California State University system. He also is a founding member of the Latino Baseball History Project at California State University, San Bernardino.

Since 2011, Santillan also has been the lead author for a bokseries on Mexican-American baseball (Arcadia Publishing). The series showcases Mexican-American baseball and softball photos (and stories) through the lens of race, class, gender, political and civil rights, the border, prejudice and discrimination. It also reflects on how baseball and softball have served as political tools to advance equality and social justice. This summer will see the release of the eleventh and twelfth books in the series (eleven covering Houston and Southeast Texas and twelve covering El Paso). Three more books will be released in 2018. Dr. Santillan and his wife, Teresa, also recently donated their Los Angeles Dodgers collection, one of the largest private Dodgers collections in the world, to the Baseball Reliquary. It is housed at the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College.

 

Coming Soon: Announcement of BBRT’s Killebrew and Sano bobblehead giveaway; a special guest post from Ross Uitts Old Sports Cards (oldsportscards.com) on his ten favorite baseball cards of all time.

 

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

 

2017 Home Run Derby Brings out the “BIG” Guns

Giancarlo Stanton defends his 2016 Home Run Derby Crown - and has home field advantage. Photo by Corn Farmer

Giancarlo Stanton defends his 2016 Home Run Derby Crown – and has home field advantage. Photo by Corn Farmer

The 2017 Home Run Derby participants have been announced, and it’s clearly a  “big boys” contest.

The average size of 2017’s All Star Home Run Derby contestants: Just over 6’ 3 ½” tall; and slightly more than 239 pounds.

As we look at this year’s lineup of HR Derby bashers, the Royals’ Mike Moustakas is the “little guy” at a mere 6’, 215 pounds.  At the other end of the spectrum is the Yankees’ Aaron Judge at 6’7”, 282-pounds.

Before we look at each contestant separately, here are a few factoids about the field.  ALL STATS AS OF JULY 3.

  • The average age is 26 years (and one month), with the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon the oldest contestant at 31, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger the youngest at 21.
  • The field averages just over four MLB seasons each, with the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton leading the way (in his eighth MLB season at age 27) and Cody Bellinger in just his first MLB season. (Note: The Yankees’ Aaron Judge also qualifies as a rookie, but he did see some MLB time in 2016.)
  • The eight contestants have 164 home runs this season (as of July 30) – an average of 20.5 each.
  • Aaron Judge leads the field with 27 home runs as of July 3; his Yankee teammate Gary Sanchez has the fewest at 13.
  • The eight players have 633 total career home runs (79.1 average), with Giancarlo Stanton leading the way at 229 and Cody Bellinger with the fewest at 24.
  • The two rookies in the field are also the two MLB league home run leaders – Aaron Judge leading the AL with 27 and Cody Bellinger tied for the NL lead with 24.
  • Perhaps, surprisingly, the participants include the MLB’s 2017 triples leader – the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon with ten (no other MLBer has more than five).
  • Three of the contestants have at least five stolen bases this season – Charlie Blackmon and Aaron Judge with six, Cody Bellinger with five.
  • The field includes the defending HR Derby Champion – Giancarlo Stanton won in 2016.
  • Giancarlo Stanton leads the field with two previous HR Derby appearances – it is the first appearance for all of the other seven contestants.
  • Giancarlo Stanton is the only contestant with a 30-home run season and/or a league HR title on his resume (.289-37-105, capturing the 2015 NL HR crown). He also topped thirty in 2011 and 2012.
  • Charlie Blackmon has more career stolen bases (107) than home runs (92).
  • All eight participants have played with only one MLB team in their careers.
  • All the outfield seats should offer fly ball opportunities – four of the hitters swing from the left side, four from the right.

Now, let take a look at each participants (alphabetical order) – all statistics as of July 3.

If BBRT had to pick the top three finishers, I’d go with: 1) Giancarlo Stanton; 2)Miguel Sano; 3) Aaron Judge.

Cody Bellinger, LH, OF/1B, Dodgers – 2017 stats: .260-24-56

The 6’4”, 210-pound Dodgers’ rookie is tied for the NL lead in home runs (24) at just 21-years-old. He also had five homers in 18 Triple A games before being called up.  The 2017 HR Derby’s youngest participant, Bellinger already has six multi-homer games under his best, as well as a streak of ten home runs in ten games. Showed his power potential in the minors, with 56 home runs in the 2015-16 seasons.

Charlie Blackmon, LH, OF, Rockies – 2017 stats: .313-18-59

The 6’3”, 210-pound Blackmon – in his seventh MLB season – is the oldest competitor in this year’s HR Derby at 31. Blackmon, who has a total of 92 career home runs, seems to be maturing into his power. His best season was 2016, when he hit .324-29-82, his only season with at least 20 round trippers. Blackmon has 107 career stolen bases – with a high of 43 in 2015. The remaining seven Derby competitors have a total of 63 career steals – and 35 of those belong to Giancarlo Stanton.

Justin Bour, LH, OF, Marlins – 2017 stats:  .289-18-54

The 6’3”, 265-pound Bour is in his fourth MLB season. The 29-year-old has 57 career round trippers (329 games) and hit a career-high 23 (.262-23-73) in 2015.  Bour is one of five National League Final Vote candidates for an All Star roster spot. Perhaps the home field advantage will work for him in the voting and the HR Derby,

Aaron Judge, RH, OF, Yankees – 2017 stats: .330-27-62

At 6’7”, 282-pounds, the 25-year-old Judge is the “big” gun of this competition.  He’s still a rookie, despite playing 27 games for the Yankees (four home runs) in 2016. His 27 homers lead the AL – and he launched the longest Statcast™-measured home run of 2017 – 495-feet on June 12.  Judge hit 60 home runs in 372 minor league games.  Playing in New York probably prepares you for the pressure of the Derby. Judge has 31 career MLB home runs.

Mike Moustakas, LH, 3B,  Royals – 2017 stats: .270-23-56

The 6’, 200-pound Moustakas is in his seventh MLB season – and I’m not sure anyone saw those 23 home runs (by July 3) coming. The 28-year-old has 104 career home runs and this is only the third time he has reached 20 in a season.  Only Moustakas and Giancarlo Stanton – among the eight competitors – has at least 100 MLB round trippers.  Moustakas’ previous high was 22 (.284-22-82) in 2015.  He is showing real “pull” power this season, ripping 21 of his 23 homers to right.  (And, there is no shift in the HR Derby.)

Gary Sanchez, RH, C,  Yankees – 2017 stats: .294-13-40

A 6’2”, 240-pounds, Sanchez is in the middle of the Derby field when it comes to size. The 24-year-old only has 13 home runs on the season, but don’t let that number fool you. The Yankee backstop has missed 21 games due to injury. In just 107 MLB games over two seasons, Sanchez has 33 career home runs.  He can go deep.

Miguel Sano, RH, 3B, Twins – 2017 stats: .278-20-60

The 6’4”, 260-pound Sano – at 24-years-old – continues to mature as a hitter. In his third MLB season, Sano has 63 MLB home runs in 272 games.  Last season, he hit .236-25-66 in 116 games and he is sure to pass all those marks this year. Hits them long, high and hard.  In 2012-13, he hit 67 home runs and drove in 217 in 274 minor league games.

Giancarlo Stanton, RH, OF, Marlins – 2017 stats: .262-21-50

The 6’6”, 245-pound Stanton –  at 27-years-old – is already in his eighth MLB season. He has 229 career round trippers and has topped 20 long balls in each of his MLB campaigns. His best season was 2014, when he hit .288-37-105.  He is the defending HR Derby Champion – and also competed in the 2014 HR Derby. He holds the record for the longest home run in the Statcast™  era at 504-feet (August 16, 2016). He also holds the record for home runs in a single Home Run Derby (61 in 2016).  Hitting in his home park, Stanton looks like the favorite to me.

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BBRT June Wrap Up – It’s Raining Dingers

It’s July 1, and that means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s June Wrap Up – all you wanted to know about the month of June in MLB (and probalby more.)  As usual, the monthly wrap will take a look at the stats and stories that captured BBRT’s attention over the previous month – as well as the standings and batting and pitching leader boards.  Full standing at the FAR, FAR end of this post.

On thing for sure about June, it was raining long balls all month. Major League Baseball set a new recrod for home runs in a month, with 1,101 June round trippers.  Just a few highlights:

  • Seven players hit 10 or more home runs in June, led by Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger’s 13 long balls – including four multi-homer games and one streak of ten home runs in ten games;
  • The Reds’ Scooter Gennett may have hit “only” nine long balls in June, but four of them came on June 6 – making him just the 17th player in MLB history with a four-homer game.
  • June ended with eleven players already having at least 20 homers on the season – and rookies leading both leagues in long balls (Yankees’ Aaron Judge at 27; Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger at 24).
  • Albert Pujols hit hjis 600th home run; Adrian Beltre his 450th.
  • Nolan Arenado topped off a cycle with a walk-off home run.
  • On June 3, a single-day record seven MLB Grand Slams left the park(s).

Not all the highlights, however, ended up on the other side of the fence.

  • Royals’ southpaw Jason Vargas started six games – and won them all – giving up just three roundt trippers (1.98 ERA for the month).
  • The Nationals’ Max Scherzer put up a sparkling 0.99 ERA for the month (in five starts) – yet managed to grab just three wins (versus two losses).
  • In contrast to Max Scherzer (see above bullet), Gerrit Cole went 4-2 on the month – despite a 6.17 ERA.
  • Mariners’ catcher Mike Zunino – who came into the month with 139 RBI in 383 MLB games – drove in a MLB June-high 31 runs in 23 games.

THE NOT SO TERRIBLE TWOS

The Royals’ Jason Vargas is leading the AL in wins at 12 and Earned Run Average at 2.22.He was also born on 2-2-1983.  

More abut these (and other) stories later – but first the standings and the BBRT Players and Pitchers of the Month.

First, no team was hotter in June than the Dodgers – the only team with 20 or  more wins (21-7, a .750 percentage). Other teams to win more than 15 games during the month were the Diamondback (17-9) and the Astros (16-11).   The Dodgers did a lot of things right in June. Their batters led all of MLB in June home runs and the pitching staff led the NL in strikeouts. Overall, the Dodgers allowed the fewest runs (96, the only MLB team under 100 for the month) and scored the NL’s second-most (157).  They also finished in the NL’s top three for the month  in stloen bases, earned run average and saves.  In the AL, the Astros hit an MLB-high .294 for the month and, offensively, finished in the top three in runs scored and home runs.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Giants continued to fade – and were the only squad not to reach at least ten wins (9-18).  The team had the NL’s highest June batting average (.281) and fourth-most June runes scored, but the second-worst June ERA in the league at 5.71. Over in the AL, the Tigers had the worst June record at 10-15. Like the Giants, the Bengals posted an ERA over five (5.12), but they also suffered on offense (tenth-most runs). A telling stat:  The Tigers blew five of seven save opportunities.

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

AL:  Astros, Red Sox and Indians; Wild Cards: Yankees; Twins or Rays..  Note: In the AL, the Angels, Royals, Mariners and Orioles are all within 1 1/2 games of a Wild Card spot.

NL: Nationals, Brewers, Dodgers; Wild Card: Diamondbacks and Rockies.  No other teams are closer than seven games to a Wild Card spot. 

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BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE JUNE 2017 PLAYERS AND PITCHES OF THE MONTH

AL Player of the Month – Mike Zunino, Catcher, Mariners 

Mike Zunino photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Yankees’ rookie phenom Aaron Judge may have gotten a lot of (well-deserved) publicity as he continued bashing baseball into the stratosphere in June, but the Mariners’ 26-year-old catcher Mike Zunino (somewhat quietly) put up fantastic June numbers. In just 79 at bats, Zunino rapped ten home runs and drove in an MLB June-best 31, while  hitting at a .304 clip and scoring 14 times.  (His 32 strikeouts are of some concern, but it’s hard to ignore 31 RBI in a month.) How surprising is Zunino’s June outburst?   Now in his fifth MLB season, the 2012 first-round draft pick (third overall) has a .201 average and just 61 home runs in 406 MLB games. Still, when playing for the University of Florida, Zunino was the 2011 Southeastersn Conference Player of the Year and, in 2012, won the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and Johnny Bench Award. He also put up a .288 average over five minor league seasons. That potential earned Zunino a $4 million signing bonus.  Could he be hitting his stride?

BBRT also gave strong consideration to the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (.324-10-25 in June) and the Astros’ George Springer (.337-11-21).

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NL Player of the Month – Cody Bellinger, Outfield/First base, Dodgers

21-year-old Cody Bellinger led MLB with 13 June home runs and tied for the NL RBI lead at 27 – while hitting .288 for the month. Not bad for a rookie.  Bellinger had four multi-homer games in June (and has six multi-home games on the year) – and also became the first rookie to hit ten home runs in a ten-game span.  Drafted right out of high school, Bellinger is already in his fifth professional season.  When called up to the Dodgers in late April, he was hitting .343, with five home runs and 15 RBI, in 18 games at Triple A Oklahoma City.    Bellinger, by the way, was drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft and signed for $700,000 – which is looking like quite a bargain. Just think, ten years ago, Bellinger was playing in the Little League World Series. 

Also high on BBRT’s list were: the D-backs Paul Goldschmidt (.347-7-27 for the month); the Braves’ Matt Adams (.314-10-25), who plugged the hole left when Freddie Freeman went down; and the Cubs’ Anthony  Rizzo (.320-6-20), who made a powerful statement when moved into the leadoff spot.

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AL Pitcher of the Month – Jason Vargas, Royal

Royals’ southpaw Jason Vargas started six games in June – and won them all.  He was MLB’s only six-game winner in the month.  He also pitched to a nifty 1.98 earned run average.  He started the month (June 2) with a seven-hit, compelte game shutout of division rival Cleveland and ended it (June 30) with a two-hit, one-run victory over another Central rival (the Twins). Vargas now stands at 12-3, 2.22 on the year. His sterling performance in June helped put the Royals back in the Central Division race – and earned Vargas BBRT Pitcher of the month.  Vargas was a second-round pick (our of Long Beach State) of the Marlins in the 2004 MLB Draft and made his MLB debt with Florida in 2005. His career MLB record (12 seasons) is 79-73, 4.03. His best year – until 2017, of course – was 2012 (14-11, 3.85 for Seattle). 

BBRT also took a long hard look at Indians’ power right-hander Corey Kluber, who started six games in June and picked up four wins (no losses), fanned an MLB-high 64 batters and had a June ERA of 1.26. In addition, BBRT considered 22-year-old Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna – who notched eight saves in eight opportunities – with 19 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings and a 0.79 ERA for the month.  But Vargas’ six-pack of wins was just too much to pass on. 

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NL Pitcher of the Month – Tie … Max Scherzer & Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw photo

Photo by SD Dirk

Wow, two hurlers with five Cy Young Awards between them.  No surprise , the Dodgers’ Clayton Kersahw and Nationals’ Max Scherzer are BBRT NL Pitcher(s) of the Month.

Kershaw started six games in June and earned an NL-best five wins.  In the process, he fanned 57 batters (another NL-best for the month) in 40 1/3 innings and posted a 2.23 ERA.  Kershaw, by the way, was the seventh overall selection in the 2006 MLB Draft (right out of high school) – signing for an estimated $2.3 million.  He was starting for the Dodgers by age 20 (2008) and a Cy Young Award winner by 2011. 

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

The June BBRT “Co-NL Pitcher of the Month” only went 3-2 over June’s 30 days. The Nationals’ Scherzer, however, got a total of two runs from his teammates in his two losses.  In his five June starts, Scherzer pitched 36 1/3 innings, giving up just four earned runs – for an MLB-best 0.99 June ERA.  He also gave up just 14 hits and six walks over the course of June – fanning 51 batters.  He deserved better than 3-2.

 Scherzer, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, was drafted in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Diamondbacks.  He could not reach agreement with the club and signed instead with the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association (independent league).  After three games with Fort Worth, he signed with the D-backs for $4.3 million. 

BBRT also considered Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen (a league-topping ten saves in ten opportunities, with a 0.00 ERA in 14 innings pitched).

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BEFORE WE GET INTO THE STATS, LET’S LOOK AT SOME JUNE HIGHLIGHTS

More #WhyIHateTheDH

The month of June started out with another case against the DH. With the Dodgers facing the Cardinals (in St. Louis) on June 1, Adam Wainwright gained his sixth win of the season – shutting out LA over six innings of work (four hits, two walks, six strikeouts).  In addition, Wainwright drove in all the runs in the contest, with a two-run home run in the second inning. It was Wainwright’s second home run of the season – and 10th of his 12-season MLB career. (Oh yes, it was also his sixth win.) Wainwright has a .200 career average and, in 2007, hit .290, with one home run and six RBI in 62 at bats.

Get A Whiff of This

On June 2, the Dodgers took on the Brewers at Miller Park, with Clayton Kershaw starting against Jimmy Nelson. It proved a true pitchers’ duel – a 2-1, 12-inning Dodgers’ win in which 58 percent of all the outs were recorded via the strikeout. Kershaw and Nelson set the tone, with Nelson fanning two in the top of the first and 11 in eight innings of work. Kershaw also recorded two strikeouts in the first and 14 in seven innings.   Brewer’s batters tied an MLB record with 26 strikeouts in the contest and the two teams’ combined 42 K’s set an NL single-game record.

Scooter Joins the Likes of the Iron Horse, Rocky and the Hammerin’ Hoosier

On June 6, the Reds’ Scooter Gennett joined the likes of Lou Gehrig, Rocky Colavito and Chuck Klein – as one of just 17 MLB player to crank four home runs in a single game.   Full story here. 

Veteran Savvy

On June 10, 14-year MLB veteran Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista took “taking the extra base” to a new level. With the score Blue Jays 3, Mariners 2, the bases empty and two out, Bautista drew a walk from Mariners’ reliever Tony Zych.  As he trotted to first base, the veteran noticed that Zych wasn’t paying w whole lot of attention and neither the second baseman or shortstop was anywhere near the two bag. So, Bautista slowed briefly as he reached first base – as if to stop – and then dashed (safely) to second bases. Kendrys Morales, the next hitter, grounded out to end the inning – but still it was a very cool veteran move. The Blue Jays, by the way, won 4-2.

The Young and Restless

Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ 25-year-old rookie RF, ended June at .326-27-62 leading the AL home runs and RBI and second in average – a rookie Triple Crown contender. And, on June 12, he smashed what both Statcast TM and the ESPN Home Run Tracker have measured as the longest home run in MLB baseball this season. Statcast computed the shot off the Orioles’ Logan Verrett at 495 feet, ESPN at 496 feet.  For the game, Judge was four-for-four, with two home runs and a double, four runs scored, three RBI and a walk – as the Yankees tiopped Baltimore 14-3.

Cycle on Outta Here

On June 18, Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado delivered his first-ever cycle (single, double, triple and home run in a single game) – and did it in walk-off (or cycle-away) fashion. Arenado started with a triple in the bottom of the first. He added a single in the fourth and a double in the sixth and a strikeout in the eighth, before coming up in the bottom of the ninth with two on, one out and his Rockies trailing the Giants 5-4.  His three-run homer completed the cycle and gave Colorado a 7-5 victory.  It was, by the way, Arenado’s 15th home run of the 2017 season.

 

 

 

More From the “Baseball Keeps Track of Everything” File

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Nolan Arenado’s cycle-completing home run of June 18 was the first walk-off, cycle-completing home run hit with the batter’s team trailing.

There have been four other cycle-completing, walk-off homers – but all game with the games tied: Cardinals’ Ken Boyer (Sept. 14, 1961); Twins’ Cesar Tovar (Sept. 19, 1972); Red Sox Dwight Evans (June 28, 1984); Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez (July 31, 2010).

Youth Will Be Served

Recently, BBRT unveiled its 2017 Under-25 MLB All Star Lineup – click here for that post.  Now, baseball does track pretty much everything, and on June 20 – as the Dodgers pasted the Mets 12-0 – two youngsters in the lineup combined for four home runs.  Twenty-three-year old SS Corey Seager poled three out of the park, while 21-year-old LF Cody Bellinger added one.  Notably, it was Bellinger’s tenth home over the previous ten games – making him the first MLB rookie (modern era) to hit ten round trippers in a span of ten contests.  It was also his 22nd homer of the year (and career) in just his 52nd career game – giving him the record for the fewest career games to reach the 22-HR mark. Oh yes, the night before, he set the record for the fewest career games to each the 21-HR mark. (As I‘ve said before, in baseball we do track everything.)

One, Two, Three and They Are Out (of the park)

On June 24, The Oakland A’s RF Matt Olson, CF Jaycob Brugman and 2B Franklin Barreto all went deep as Oakland bested the White Sox 10-2.   Now, three home runs by three teammates isn’t all that rare.  However, three home runs in the same game all being the first career round trippers for rookie players on the same squad is.  Olson, Brugman and Barreto are only the second trio of rookies from the same team ever to collect their first MLB home runs in the same game. The only other such group is Duke Kenworth, Art Kruger and John Potts of the Federal League Kansas City Packers back on April 26. 1914.

Rizzo Likes It At The Top

aNTHONY rIZZO photo

Photo by apardavila

Anthony Rizzo (.292-32-109 in 2016) has all the markings of a middle-of-order guy.  However, the Cubs have struggled form the lead-off spot this season – using Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Jon Jay, Ian Happ and Javier Baez at the top of the order.

On June 13, Manager Joe Maddon decided to think a bit out of the box, moving 1B Anthony Rizzo from the number-three spot in the order to lead off.  Thirteen proved to be a pretty lucky number. Here’s how Rizzo first seven games as the Cubs’ first hitter of the contest went:

 

  • June 13 – Home Run
  • June 14 – Home Run
  • June 16 – Walk
  • June 17 – Single
  • June 18 – Double
  • June 19 – Single
  • June 20 – Home Run

Finally, on June 21, in his eighth game as the leadoff hitter, Rizzo started the Cubs’ offense with an out – a fly out to right.  In his first seven games in the number-one slot in the order, Rizzo went 12-for-28 (.429), with two doubles, one triple four home runs, seven runs scored, 10 RBI, four walks and five strikeouts.

Number One for Number One

Let me say, as a Twins’ fan, I was as surprised as everyone when they made high schooler Royce Lewis the number-one overall pick in the recent MLB Draft.  (I expected a less risky college-age pick.) Still, scouts say the 18-year-old is a multi-tool player who has also shown leadership skills.  Well, young Mr. Lewis certainly got off to a good start.  In his first at bat, in the first inning of his first professional game (for the Gulf Coast League Twins), the first overall pick rapped his first professional home run (also, of course, collecting his first professional run scored and RBI.) I expect the Twins’ brass were all smiles after that beginning.

Big Bang Theory – Make ‘Em Count

On June 27, Rangers’s third baseman Adrian Beltre continued his march toward the Hall of Fame by banging out his 450th MLB home run – and he made it count. The blast came in the top of the ninth inning, off Indians’ closer Cody Allen, giving the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Tribe. It was the third consecutive game Beltre had done deep, giving him five on the season.   Beltre finished June with a .277-5-22 line on the season – and just 30 hits shy of 3,000 for his 20-year MLB career. One of those true leather and lumber guys, Beltre has four Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Gloves on his resume.

Even More #WhyIHateTheDH

On June 27, Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer picked up his ninth win of the season – as Washington topped the Cubs 2-1 in D.C.   During his six frames, Scherzer gave up two hits and one run – and also collected two hits and one RBI of his own.  (Note: He also fanned six – versus no walks – in his six-inning stint.) Scherzer ended June 9-5, 2.06 on the year.

A Walk Off Strikeout

We’ve all seen or read about walk-off hits, home runs, walks and even balks, but how about a walk-off whiff?  On June 28, the Angels and Dodgers were tied at 2, with the Halos batting in the bottom of the ninth.  Here’s how it went down. Pedro Baez came on in relief for the Dodgers and got Angels’ 2B Danny Espinosa and a grounder to first. LF Ben Revere than reached on an error by LAD SS Chris Taylor – and went to second on a wild pitch to CF Cameron Maybin. Maybin later struck out swinging, but Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal couldn’t handle the pitch (passed ball) – with Revere bolting for third. Grandal then compounded his mistake by throwing wildly to first to try to get Maybin. In the meantime, Revere had advanced to third and then came in with the winning run on the throwing error. Basically, a walk-off (really run-off) strikeout.

A Grand Way to Celebrate 600 – and Other Join In

albert Pujols photo

Photo by Keith Allison

One June 3, as the Angels topped the Twins 7-2, Albert Pujols ripped his 600th career round tripper – becoming just the ninth player to reach that number.  It was an histsoric feat and Pujols did it in grand style.  The home run was a fouth-inning Grand Slam – making Pujols the first player to hit a Grand Slam for number 600 –  off the Twins’ ace Erwin Santana.  It was also one of seven grand Slams hit that day – a new major-league record for four-run blasts in a single day.

 

 

 

On June 3, a single-day record seven Grand Slams were hit in MLB.  The full list of “Grand Slamers:”

Albert Pujols, Angels

Kyle Schwarber, Cubs

Matt Adams, Braves

Ian Desmond, Rockies

Chris Taylor Dodgers

Travis Shaw, Brewers

Mike Zunino, Mariners

A Little Spring(er) at the Top of the Lineup

George Springer Astros photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On June 29, Astros’ RF and leadoff hitter George Springer led off Houston’s first inning wth a home run to deep right field.  It was his 24th dinger of the season and 11th of June. It also was the ninth time in 2017 he has homered as the first Astro to go to the plate. Springer’s nine leadoff home runs lead the majors and are an Astro’s single-season record. Alfonso Soriano’s 13 leadoff long balls in 2003 are the MLB record and Springer has more than a half season left to top that mark.

 

 


SO MUCH FOR THE STORIES. NOW – FOR DIEHARDS –  THE STATS

FIRST FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE

—–TEAM BATTING LEADERS … MONTH OF JUNE—–

Average

NL:  Giants .281; Nationals – .280; Rockies – .276

AL: Astros – .294; Mariners – .288; Tigers – .281

Runs Scored

NL: Nationals – 161; Dodgers – 157; D-backs 152

AL: Yankees – 177; Mariners – 160; Astros – 157

Home Runs

NL: Dodgers – 53; Mets – 50; Brewers – 49

AL:  Yankees – 47; Rangers – 47; Astros – 46

A SWING AND A MISS

The Brewers struck out an MLB-leading 290 times in June – 29.6 percent of their official at bats. The A’s led the AL in whiffs at 285 – also 29.6 percent of their official at bats.

Stolen Bases

NL: Nationals – 32; Brewers – 26; Dodgers & Marlins – 21

AL: Angels- 31; Rangers – 30; Rays – 19

GOTCHA!

The Orioles swiped the fewest bases in all of MLB last month – just four in five tries. The Braves had the fewest steals in the NL – five in nine tries – for an MLB-low 55.5 percent success rate.  The Royals attempted just seven steals – but were successful all seven times.

Walks

NL: Dodgers – 131; Cardinals – 110; Cubs – 100

AL: Yankees – 115; Indians – 102; A’s – 97

CAN’T SEEM TO GET THE DUCKS OFF THE POND

Only two teams scored fewer than 100 runs in June:  The Phillies (94) and the Blue Jays (96); Surprisingly, the Rockies tied the Phillies for the fewest home runs for the month (24), but they did play just nine of 27 games at Coors Field.

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS … MONTH OF JUNE—–

Earned Run Average (MLB Average – 4.63)

NL: D-backs – 3.04; Dodgers – 3.29; Cubs 3.98

AL: Indians – 3.71; Yankees – 3.85; Red Sox – 3.91

THAT’ S A LOTTA RUNS

Eight teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for June. Topping the AL – the Orioles at 6.27.  In the NL – the Reds at 5.97.

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB Average – 134)

NL: Dodgers – 96; D-backs – 101; Cubs – 113

AL: Indians – 109; Royals – 114; Red Sox – 116

Strikeouts (MLB Average – 225)

NL: Dodgers – 280; Nationals – 263; D-backs – 244

AL: Astros – 293; Indians – 267; Yankees – 258

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB Average – 86)

NL: Padres – 75; Pirates – 68; – Nationals & Dodgers – 79

AL: Royals – 68; Rays – 71; Red Sox – 73

NOTHING LIKE A FREE PASS

The Orioles gave up an MLB-high 117 walks in June.  The Brewers’ staff gave up an NL-highest 102 walks during the month.

Saves (MLB average – 6)

NL: Dodgers – 12; Brewers – 11; Padres & Cubs – 8

AL: Rays – 9; four with eight

BLEW THAT ONE

The Yankees and Marlins each recorded six blown saves in June. However, the worse save percentage went to the Tigers, who had just two saves in seven changes (28.6%).

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—–BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE—–

Average (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  Justin Turner, Dodgers – .415; Andrew McCutcheon, Pirates – .411; Denard Span, Giants – .374

AL: Ben Gamel, Mariners – .393; Josh Reddick, Astros – .389; Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians – .373

Home Runs

NL: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 13; Matt Adams, Braves – 10; two with nine

AL: George Springer, Astros – 11; four with ten

LET’S GO FOR THREe

The Rockie’s Nolan Arenado hit an NL-leading four triples in June.

RBI

NL: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 27; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 27; Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 27

AL: Mike Zunino, Mariners – 31; Gary Sanchez, Yankees – 27; Justin Upton, Tigers – 27

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 25; three with 23

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 30; Joe Ramirez, Indians – 26; three with 24

Stolen Bases

NL:  Trea Turner, Nationals – 22; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 13; Chris Taylor, Dodgers 9

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels – 11; Delino DeShields, Rangers – 10; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 8

Walks

NL:  Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 22; Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 19; five with 18

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 30; Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers – 19; Carlos Santana, Indians – 18

BELOW THE M-LINE

The lowest average (minimum 50 June at bats) for the month went to Padres’ outfielder Allen Cordoba at .148 (8-for-54). In the AL, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo was in the basement at .162 (11-for-68).  

Matt Davidson of the White Sox and Khris Davis of the A’s led all of MLB in June strikeouts with 42. Davidson achieved his whiffs in just 88 at bats (a 47.7 percent K rate. Still, he hit .239-7-13. Remarkably, Davis hit  .299 for the month (.299-5-22), despite the 42 strikeouts. Early-season sensation Eric Thames of the Brewers had a rough June – hitting just .163 and leading the NL in strikeouts (39 in 92 at bats.)

—–INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS … THE MONTH OF JUNE—–

Wins

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 5-0, 2.23; Josh deGrom, Mets – 4-1, 2.75;  Gerrit Cole, Pirates – 4-2, 6.17

AL:  Jason Vargas, Royals – 6-0, 1.98; Jordan Montgomery, Yankees – 4-0, 2.59; Jose Berrios, Twins – 4-1, 3.21; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 4-1. 2.78

ERA (Minimum 25 June innings)

NL:  Max Scherzer, Nationals – 0.99; Chase Anderson, Brewers 1.56; Alex Wood, Dodgers – 2.10

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 1.26; Jose Quintana, White Sox – 1.78; Jason Vargas, Royals, 1.98

GETTING UP THERE A BIT

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in June went to the Reds’ Amir Garret, who put up a 12.15 ERA in four June starts (13 1/3 innings).  In the AL. given those parameters, We find th Orioles’ Chris  Tillman at 9.69.  

Strikeouts

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 57 (40 1/3 innings); Max Scherzer – 51 (36 1/3); Jimmy Nelson, Brewers – 50 (40 2/3)

AL: Corey Kluber, Indians – 64 (43 innings); Chris Sale, Red Sox – 45 (35 2/3); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 43 (37 1/3)

I WALK THE LINE

The Marlins’ Edison Volquez gave up the most walks in June (20 in 35 2/3 innings). He also gave up just 20 hits – finishing with a 3-1, 3.28 record for the month.

Saves

NL:  Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 10; Corey Knebel, Brewers – 10; four with seven

AL: Brandon Kintzer, Twins – 8; Roberto Osuma, Blue Jays – 8; Cragi Kimbrel, Red sox – 8.

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NOW THE YEAR-TO-DATE STATS (Still with me?)

—–TEAM BATTING … YEAR-TO-DATE LEADERS—–

Average  (MLB Average – .254)

NL:  Nationals – .277; Rockies – .268; Braves & D-backs  – .264

AL: Astros – .283; Yankees – .270; Red Sox & Mariners – .266

Runs Scored (MLB average – 373)

NL: Nationals – 447; Dodgers – 428; D-backs – 422

AL: Astros – 449; Yankees – 445; Mariners – 398

TIME TO POWER UP

Only the Padres (291) and the Phillies (299) have plated fewer than 300 runs through June.  San Diego also has the lowest team batting average at just .227. In the AL, the Royals have put up the fewest tallies at 314, while the Rangers are hitting an AL-low .239.

Home Runs (MLB Average – 101)

NL: Brewers – 123; Nationals – 121; Mets – 118

AL:  Astros – 128; Yankees & Rays  – 123

A SWING AND A MISS

Tampa Bay hitterS have played a lot of air ball this year, as the Rays are the only team to strike out 800 times (802) through June. The Rays are, however, tied for second in home runs at 123.

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 41)

NL: Brewers – 69; Reds – 68; Nationals – 62

AL: Angels- 74; Rangers – 73; Mariners – 50

NOT SO FAST!

The Orioles hace MLB’s fewest stolen bases through June and are the only team with under 20 steals (just 16 in 21 tries). From a percentage point of view, the Rockies are the least successful thieves (28 steals in 50 attempts – 56 percent). Compare that to the Royals, with 36 steals in 44 tries (82 percent).

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS … YEAR-TO-DATE—–

Earned Run Average (MLB average – 4.34)

NL: Dodgers – 3.24; D-backs – 3.41; Cardinals – 4.04

AL: Indians –  3.83; Yankees – 3.83; Red Sox – 3.86

I’D GIVE IT A FIVE

Only two teams have ERA’s over five through June – The Reds at 5.26 and the Orioles at 5.02. NotablY, the Orioles are just one game under .500, while the are 11 games away from break even.

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 373)

NL: Dodgers – 281; D-backs –  317; Cardinals – 351

AL: Indians – 315; Astros & Yankees – 333

LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED

The Dodgers’ rotation has the best starters’ ERA in the NL at 3.40; while the Astros’ starters top the AL at 3.83.  The other end of the spectrum? Reds’ starters at 6.18 and Orioles’ starters at 5.57.

Interested in the end game? The Indians’ pen is best at 2.57, while the Dodgers pen has the NL’s lowest ERA at 2.95.  As far as throwing fuel the fire – The Tigers’ and Nationals’ pens are the only relief staffs with ERAs over five (5.15 and 5.07, respectively).

Strikeouts (MLB average – 657)

NL: Dodgers – 783; D-backs – 750; Nationals – 720

AL: Astros – 830; Indians – 771; Red Sox – 742

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB average – 261)

NL: Dodgers & Pirates  – 226; Nationals – 238

AL:  Red Sox – 205; Indians – 220; Yankees – 234

Saves (MLB Average – 19)

NL: Rockies – 28; Brewers – 76; Cardinals & Dodgers – 23

AL: Rays – 26; Red Sox – 24; Astros – 23

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

The Rangers lead all of MLB in blown saves with 16 – and, in fact, five of the top six teams in blown saves are from the AL. The Nationals lead the NL with 13 miffed save opportunities.  Only the Rangers and Phillies have been successful in fewer than half their save opportunities – Rangers 14-for-29/44.8 percent and Phillies 13-for-24/45.8 percent.

—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS YEAR TO DATE—-

Average

NL:  Buster Posey, Giants – .341; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – 339; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – .336

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .330; Aaron Judge, Yankees – .326; Corey Dickerson, Rays .326

Home Runs

NL: Cody Bellingers, Dodgers – 24; Joey Votto, Reds – 23; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 21

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 27; George Springer, Astros – 24; two with 22

THREE IS NOT A CROWD, BUT IT IS A BUNCH

The Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon has ten triples through June – no other player has more than five.

RBI

NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 66; Jake Lamb,D-backs – 65; Ryan Zimmeerman, Nati0nals – 62

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 62; Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 59; Robinson Cano, Mariners – 57

Runs Scored

NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 69; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 64; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 60

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 70; George Springer, Astros – 63; Corey Dickerson, Rays – 60

Stolen Bases

NL:  Trea Turner, Nationals – 35; Billy Hamilton, Reds – 33; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 29

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels – 24; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 20; Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 19

Walks

NL:  Matt Carpenbter, Cardinals – 56; Joey Votto, Reds – 55; Kris Bryant, Cubs – 53

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 58; Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers 47; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 47.

OUCH!

Only four playes have fanned 100+ times through June: Khris Davis, A’s and Joey Gallo, Rangers – 107 each; Miguel Sano, Twins – 106; Keon Broxton, Brewers – 104.

—–PITCHING LEADERS … MONTH OF JUNE—–

Wins

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 12-2, 2.32; five with nine

AL:  Jason Vargas, Royals – 12-3, 2.22; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 10-3, 2.77; Ervin Santana, Twins – 10-5, 3.09

ERA (Minimum 25 June innings)

NL:  Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.06; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.32; Gio Gonzalez, Natonals – 2.87

AL:  Jason Vargas, Royals – 2.22; Lance McCullers Jr., Astros – 2.69; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.77

NOT EXACTLY THE YEAR OF THE PITCHER

In this year of the home run, five pitchers havce already given up 20 or more long balls: John Lackey, Cubs (24); Bronson Arroyo, Reds (23); Ricky Nolasco, Angels (23); Masahiro Tanaka (21)l Jordan Zimmerman , Tigers (20).

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 151 (113 2/3 innings); Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 135 (116 1/3); Robbie Ray, D-backs – 128 (100)

AL; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 155 (113  2/3 innings); Chris Archer, Rays – 131 (110 1/3); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 115 (107)

Saves

NL:  Greg Holland Rockies – 26; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 20; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 18

AL: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox – 23; Brandon Kintzer, Twins – 23; Alex Colome, Rays 21

RESCUE ME

Three pitches have accumulated six blown saves (the MLB high); The Tigers’ Francisco Rodriguez; Marlins’ David Phelps; and Pirates’ Tony Watson. Their saves totals? Watson ten, Rodriguez six, Phelps zer0.

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FINALLY!!! THE STANDINGS

 

jUNEsTAND

 

Main Sources for stats in this post:  ESPN.com; MLB.com; Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

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

 

 

Scooter Joins Rocky, The Iron Horse and the Hammerin’ Hoosier – 4-HR Games

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Players who rap four home runs in a game (which, by the way is rarer than a pitcher’s perfect game) usually have (well-earned) nicknames like Rocky, The Iron Horse or The Hammerin’ Hoosier.  Yesterday (June 6), an uncharacteristic “Scooter” was added to the list (now 17 players long) of major leaguers with four home runs in a single game.  I’m talking, of course, about the Reds’ Ryan “Scooter” Gennett – the 27-year-old (5’10”, 185-pound) utility player who went four-for-five, with four home runs, four runs scored and ten RBI as the Reds’ topped the Cardinals 13-1 in Cincinnati.  Gennett came into the game with three home runs on the season. Let’s look at how Gennett and his big game compare to others on the four-homer list.

  • Gennett blasted his four long balls in front of a home crowd; 12 of the 17 four-homer games have been achieved “on the road.”
  • Gennett’s ten RBI were the second most in a four-homer game. The Cardinals’ Mark Whiten’s 12 RBI (September 7, 1993) are the record, not just for a four-homer game, but for any MLB game (tied). The Mariners’ Mike Cameron (May 2, 2002) is the only player to drive in the minimum four runs in a four-homer game.
  • Gennett and Mark Whiten are the only players to include a Grand Slam in their four-homer contest.
  • Gennett came out on the winning end of the Reds/Cardinals matchup, only two players – the Phillies’ Ed Delahanty (July 13, 1896) and Braves’ Bob Horner (July 6, 1986) hit four home runs in a losing cause.
  • At 27-years-old, Gennett is the seventh-youngest player to hit four homers in a game. The youngest is the White Sox’ Pat Seerey (July 18, 1948) at 25 years -four months – one day.  The oldest is the Blue Jays’ Carlos Delgado (September 25, 2003) at 32-years-old.
  • Gennett, a utility player, was in left field for the game – the second left fielder to accomplish the feat. Four-homer games have been achieved by: six first baseman; four center fielders; three right fielders; two left fielders; one third baseman; and one second baseman.
  • Gennett was batting fifth in the order. Fourth (appropriately cleanup) is the most popular lineup spot for a four-home contest – seven times. Other spots: third – four times; fifth – twice; sixth – twice; seventh – once; leadoff – once.
  • Gennett scored four times and had 17 total bases. The Dodgers’ Shawn Green holds the top spot for four homer-games with six runs scored and 19 total bases (also the MLB record for total bases in any MLB game).
  • Gennett had a total of 38 career homers before his four-homer game, tied with Mark Whiten for the fewest ever for a player at the time he notched a four-homer contest. (Whiten ended his career with 105 homers).
  • Gennett now has a total of 42 career home runs (he is in his fifth MLB season). The Giants’ Willie Mays (April 30, 1961) has the most career home runs of a player with a four-homer game at 660. The player with the fewest is the Beaneaters’ Bobby Lower (May 30, 1894) with 71.
  • The fewest home runs hit by a player in the season in which he had a four homer game is 13 by Ed Delahanty, who went .397-13-126 in 1896. (The 13 HR’s did lead the league.) The most home runs hit by a player in a season in which he had a four-homer game is 43 by the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton in 2012.
  • Three players have won the home run crown in the year of their four-homer games: the Phillies’ Ed Delahanty (1896); Indians’ Rocky Colavito (1959); Phillies’ Mike Schmidt (1976).

Below is a list – and brief  wrap up – of the 16 players in big league history to record a four-homer game before Scooter Gennett.

Josh Hamilton, CF, Rangers, May 8, 2012 …. Hamilton (hitting in the number-three spot) went five-for-five (four home runs and double), scored four and drove in eight as his Rangers topped the Orioles 10-3 in Baltimore. The homers were his 11th-14th of the season. The 6’4”, 240-lb., 30-year-old outfielder finished the 2012 season at .285-43-128 and his nine-season MLB career at .290-200-701.  Hamilton had a career-high 43 home runs in 2012 and also had two seasons of 30+ round trippers.

Carlos Delgado, 1B, Blue Jays, Sept. 25, 2003 … Delgado (batting cleanup) went four-for-four, scored four and drove in six as his Blue Jays bested the Devil Rays 10-8 in Toronto. The homers were his 38th-41st of the season. The 6’3”, 215-lb., 31-year-old finished the 2003 season at .302-42-145 and his 17-season MLB career at .280-473-1,512.  Delgado had a career-high 44 home runs in 1999 and had 11 seasons of 30+ round trippers (three of 40+).

Shawn Green, RF, Dodgers, May 23, 2002 … Green (batting in the number-three hole) went six-for-six (four homers, one double, one single), scored six times and drove in seven as the Dodgers beat the Brewers 16-3 in Milwaukee. The homers were his sixth-ninth of the season. The 6’4”, 190-lb., 29-year-old finished the 2002 season at .285-42-114 and his 15-season MLB career at .283-328-1,070.  Green had a career-high 49 home runs in 2001 and had four seasons of 30+ round trippers (three of 40+).

Mike Cameron, CF, Mariners, May 2, 2002 … Cameron (batting cleanup) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in four as the Mariners blasted the White Sox 15-4 in Chicago. The homers were his sixth-ninth of the season. The 6’2”, 210-lb., 29-year-old finished the 2002 season at .239-25-80 and his 17-season MLB career at .249-278-968.  Cameron had a career-high 30 home runs in 2004; and had seven seasons of 20 or more.

Mark Whiten, CF, Cardinals, Sept. 7, 1993 … Whiten (batting in the seventh spot) went four-for-four, scored four and drove in 12 as the Cardinals battered the Reds 15-2 in Cincinnati. The homers were his 19th-22nd of the season. The 6’3”, 210-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1993 season at .253-25-99 and his 11-season MLB career at .259-105-423.  Whiten’s 25 home runs in 1993 were a career high, he had just one other campaign of 20+ long balls.

Bob Horner, 1B, Braves, July 6, 1986 … Horner (batting cleanup) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in six as his Braves lost to the Expos 11-8 in Atlanta.  The homers were his 14th-17th of the season. The 6’1”, 195-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1986 season at .273-27-87 and his 10-season MLB career at .277-218-685.  Horner had a career-high 35 home runs in 1980 and had three seasons of 30+ round trippers.

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies, April 17, 1976 Schmidt (batting sixth) went five-for-six (four homers and a single), scored four and drove in eight as his Phillies edged the Cubs 18-16 in Chicago – in a game that featured 43 combined hits and nine homers. The homers were Schmidt’s second-fifth of the young season. The 6’2”, 195-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1976 season at .262-38-107 and his 18-season MLB career at .267-548-1,595.  Schmidt had a career-high 48 home runs in 1980 and had 13 seasons of 30+ round trippers (three of 40+).

Willie Mays, CF, Giants, April 30, 1961 … Mays (batting third) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in eight as his Giants beat the Braves 14-4 in Milwaukee. The homers were his third-fifth of the season. The 5’10”, 170-lb., 29-year-old finished the 1961 season at .308-40-123 and his 22-season MLB career at .302-660-1,903.  Mays had a career-high 52 home runs in 1965 and had 11 seasons of 30+ round trippers (two of 50+ and another four of 40+).

Rocky Colavito, RF, Indians, June 10, 1959 … Colavito (batting fourth) went four-for-four (one walk), scored five and drove in six as the Indians topped the Orioles 11-8 in Baltimore. The homers were his 15th-18th of the season. The 6’3”, 190-lb., 25-year-old finished the 1959 season at .357-42-111 and his 14-season MLB career at .266-374-1,159.  Colavito had a career-high 42 home runs in 1959 and had seven seasons of 30 or more round trippers (three of 40+).

Joe Adcock, 1B, Braves, July 31, 1954 … Adcock (batting fifth) went five-for-five (four home runs and a double), scored five runs and drove in seven, as the Braves beat the Dodgers 15-7 in Brooklyn. The homers were his 16th-19th of the season. The 6’4”, 210-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1954 season at .308-23-87 and his 17-season MLB career at .277-336-1,122.  Adcock had a career-high 38 home runs in 1956 and had two seasons of 30+ round trippers.

Gil Hodges, 1B, Dodgers, Aug. 31, 1950 … Hodges (batting sixth) went five-for-six (four home runs and a single), scored five times and drove in nine as the Dodgers bested the Braves 19-3 in Brooklyn. The homers were his 20th-23rd of the season. The 6’1”, 200-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1950 season at .283-32-113 and his 18-season MLB career at .273-370-1,274.  Hodges had a career-high 42 home runs in 1954 and had six seasons of 30+ round trippers (two of 40 or more).

Pat Seerey, LF, White Sox, July 18, 1948 … Seerey (batting fourth)  went four-for-seven (also had a walk), scored four times and knocked in seven runs as his White Sox topped the Athletics 12-11 in the first game of a double header in Philadelphia. The homers were his eighth-eleventh of the season. The 5’10”, 200-lb., 25-year-old finished the 1948 season at .231-19-70 and his seven-season MLB career at .224-86-261.  Seerey had a career-high 26 home runs in 1946 – his only season of 20 or more.

Chuck Klein, RF, Phillies, July 10, 1936 … Klein (batting third) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in six as the Phillies beat the Pirates 9-6 in Pittsburgh. The homers were his 11th-14th of the season. The 6’, 185-lb., 31-year-old finished the 1936 season at .306-25-104 and his 17-season MLB career at .320-300-1.201.  Klein had a career-high 43 home runs in 1929 and had four seasons of 30+ round trippers (two of 40+).

Lou Gehrig, 1B, Yankees, June 3, 1932 … Gehrig (batting cleanup) went four-for-six, scored four and drove in six as the Yankees outlasted the Athletics 20-13 in Philadelphia. The homers were his 8th-11th of the season. The 6’, 200-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1932 season at .349-34-151 and his 17-season MLB career at .340-493-1,995.  Gehrig had a career-high 52 home runs in 1927 and had 12 seasons of 30+ round trippers (seven of 40 or more).

Ed Delahanty, 1B, Phillies, July 13, 1896 … Delahanty (batting cleanup) went five-for-five (four homers and a single), scored four and drove in nine as his Phillies lost to the Colts (Cubs) 9-8 in Chicago. The 6’1”, 170-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1896 season at .397-13-126 (the 13 home runs led the NL) and his 16-season MLB career at .346-101-1,466.  Delahanty had a career-high 19 home runs in 1893.

Bobby Lowe, 2B, Beaneaters, May 30, 1894 … Lowe (batting leadoff) went five-for-six (four home runs and a single), scored four and drove in six as his Beaneaters (Braves) beat the Reds 20-11 in Boston.  The 5’10”, 150-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1894 season at .346-17-114 and his 18-season MLB career at .273-71-989.  Lowe’s 17 homers in 1894 were his career high.

Sources: Baseball-reference.com; Society for American Baseball Research; MLB.com.

 

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MLB in May – The Astros, The Long Ball, Rocky Mountain Surprise

The Astros did a lot of celebrating in May. Photo by Keith Allison

The Astros did a lot of celebrating in May.
Photo by Keith Allison

It’s June 1, and that means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s second monthly wrap up of the 2017 season. We’ll be taking a look at leaders and losers (statistically – for May and season-to-date), as well as unique events and trends that caught BBRT’s attention.

Two things jumnp out when I reflect on May in the Major Leagues – the Houston Astros and the long ball.

 —- The Astros —-

First, the Astros. May was, indeed, their month. How dominate were the boys from Houston? In May, the Astros:

  • Went 22-7 – the only team to reach twenty wins and the only team to play .700+ball (.759).
  • Led all of MLB with 180 runs scored and gave up MLB’s sixth-fewest (and the AL’s second-fewest) runs at 113.
  • Had and MLB-best plus-67 run differential.
  • Led MLB in batting average (.280), base hits (281), and home runs (52, tied with the Rays) and total bases (502).
  • Led all of MLB in pitchers’ strikeouts (299) and had the AL’s lowest ERA (3.60).
  • Tied for the MLB lead in shutouts (3).
  • Led MLB in saves (11, tied with the Rays).

All in all, a good month if you were an Astro.

— The Long Ball — 

Major Leaguers mashed 1,060 home runs in May – the second-most of any month in MLB history.  The only month with more long balls was May of 2000 … and, of course, we have a special designation for that “era.”

Looking at the month, Minnesota’s Target Field was the site of the most May roundtrippers (66), while the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays propelled the most baseballs out of the park (52 each). The Marlins’ Justin Bour did more for the near-record than any other player, going deep eleven times.  The A’s Yonder Alonso and Rays’ Logan Morrison also reach double digits in home runs during the month.

— A Few Additional Observations —

During May:

  • The Rockies Charlie Blackmon split up his extra base hits  pretty evenly: six doubles, six homers and an MLB-leading five triples. As of May 31, he leads MLB with eight three-baggers; no one else has more than four.
  • The Rangers ran off a season’s-best ten game winning streak – in which ten different pitchers recorded victories.
  • Joe Maddon notched his 1,000 career win; Albert Pujols his 599th home run.
  • We saw the second and third “immaculate innings” (three strikeouts  on nine pitches).
  • With eight saves in May, the Rockies’ Greg Holland is now 19-for-19 in 2017 save opportunities.
  • The Red Sox needed FOUR strikes in the ninth inning of a game against the Rangers to tie the record for K’s in a nine-inning contest – and they got them.

These events –  and more on the month and season – covered as you read on. 

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First, a look at Baseball Roundtable’s Players and Pitchers of the Month for May.

—–BBRT PLAYERS/PITCHERS OF THE MONTH (MAY 2017)—–

AL Player of the Month – Carlos Correa, SS, Astros

Carlos Correa mlb photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Carlos Correa, the Astros’ 22-year-old SS (already in his third MLB season), had an outstanding month of May, putting up an MLB-best  .386  average, with 22 runs scored, an AL-leading 26 RBI and seven  home runs. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year – one of the current crop of good young MLB shortstops – just seems to keep getting better (and he has a solid line up around him to help him on that journey). Coming in a close second was Blue Jays’ veteran RF Jose Bautista, who came off a terrible start (.178-1-7 in April) to go  .317-9-21 in May. Bautists also scored 23 runs, and even tossed in a pair fo stolen baes.  Others in the  running were:  Yankees’ LF Brett Gardner (.327-9-21) and  Astros’ LF Marwin Gonzalez (.382-7-22).

AL Pitcher of the Month – Lance McCullers, Astros

Houston righty Lance McCullers went 4-0 (six starts), but more importantly, notched a 0.99 ERA over 36 1/3 innings pitched (37 strikeouts, 21 hits, 10 walks).  In the running were: Twins’ RHP Erwin Santana (3-2, 2.57 in May) and Red Sox’ southpaw Chris Sale (5-0, 4.24, with an AL-high 58 May strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings pitched).

NL Player of the Month – Charlie Blackmon, CF, Rockies

Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon put it all together in May – .359 average, six home runs, 24 runs scored and 22 RBI, not to mention five triples and three steals in four attempts. The seven-season MLB veteran (with a .300 career average) is a good part of the reason Colorado is fighting for the lead in the AL West. Finishing close beind were: the Marlns’ 1B Justin Bour, who led MLB in May home runs with 11, adding a .344 average and 21 RBI; and the Reds’ Adam Duvall (.291, with seven homers and an MLB-leading 28 RBI.

NL Pitcher of the Month – Alex Wood, Dodgers

WoodDodger lefty Alex Wood got off to a rough start in May – giving up five runs (four earned) in five innigns against the Giants on May 2. Still, his Dodgers scored 13 runs for the southpaw and he got the win.  Things turned around after that. The 26-year-old Wood (in his fifth MLB season) reeled off four more wins in May (the only NL pitcher to notch five victories in the month) and did not give up a single earned run in his final four May starts. Wood went 5-0 in May, with a 1.27 ERA and 41 strikeouts (versus seven walks) in 28 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately, he ended the month on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Woods now stands 6-0, 1.69 on the season (10 appearances/eight starts). His best season was 2013 – 11-11, 2.78 with 170 strikeouts in 171 2/3 innings for the Braves. Others in the running: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (4-0, 2.78, 43 strikeouts in 32 ½ innings) and Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks (3-2, 2.56, with 45 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings).

ROCKIES’ SURPRISES – SOMETHING OLD/SOMETING NEW

A couple of Rockies players have surprised me this season – a 33-year-old veteran and a 22-year-old rookie.  Let’s start with the rookie – RHP Antonio Senzatela. Name not ring a bell?  Check the top of the MLB  leaderboard in wins. Zenzatela finished May at 7-2, 3.49.  In his sixth season in the Rockies’ system (in 2012, as a 17-year-old, he went 5-2, 0.72 in the Domincan Summer League), Senzatela made the jump from Double A to the big leagues. In five minor league seasons, he was 41-19, 2.45.

Now the veteran. In his eleventh MLB season, Mark Reynolds has played for the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Yankees, Brewers, Cardinals and, now, the Rockies. He’s been known as a low-average, but dependable, source of power.  (He also led his league in strikeouts four straight seasons – 2008-2011 – and holds the record for most whiff in a season at 223 in 2009). In his first nine seasons, Reynolds put up a .230 average, with 237 home runs and one strikeout for every 2.75 at bats. Colorado seems to agree with Reynolds – averaging .291 with one strikeout for every 3.64 at bats since joining the Rockies in 2016.  So far this season (through May 31), Reynolds stands at .308-13-44). 

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TEAM PERFORMACE/STANDINGS

Now. lets check on team performance and standings. (More on individual stats later.) If the season ended at the close of play May 31, your playoff teams would be:

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

The Astros have a comfortable 11-game lead in the AL West – where they not only have MLB’s best winning percentage AT .704, but are the only team in their division playing above .500 ball. The closest AL race is in the Central, where the Twins and Indians are tied atop the standings.

The Astros, as noted in the opening paragraphs, were the best team in the AL (all of MLB, really) in May – and expanded their division  lead from three games to eleven. The Blue Jays did make a surge in May, with the AL’s sscond-best record (18-10), thanks to a revival of the team’s power bats.  They still, however reside in last place in the East.  The Orioles, who led the East on May 1, slumped to 12-16 – and third place – in May. The Twins and Indians are tied at the top of the Central, despite each going just one game over .500 for the month.

NL: Nationals; Brewers; Dodgers.  Wild Cards: Rockies; Diamondbacks.

As of May 31, the NL West would put three teams into the post-season (Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks) and they all have winning percentages of .600 or better.  In the NL East, Washington is coasting with an 9 1/2-game lead, and boasts the NL’s top winning percentage (33-19, .635).  The other two division are close, with one major surprise – the Brewers are leading the NL Central by 1 ½ games over the Cardinals, with the defending World Series Champion Cubs trailing by 2 ½.

The Dodgers –  behind solid pitching (May lowest-ERA at 2.94) and offense (an NL-leading 159 May runs) – had the NL’s best May recrord at 19-9, moving from third place to first.  They were, in effect, the NL verson of Astros-lite.  Tne surprising Rockies  and the Diamondback each won 17 games (12 and 11 losses, respectively) and sit just 1/2 game back.  The only other NL team with more than 15 May wins was the Nationals at 16-11.  They expanded their lead from 5 games to 9 1/2.  In the Central, the Brewers (15-12) and Cardinals (13-13), both moved passed the Cubs (12-15) in May.  The Phillies continued to flounder, with only six May wins (fewest in baseball) against 22 lossses.  Ouch.

FULL STANDINGs AND OVERALL AND MONTH-OF-MAY WON-LOST RECORDS

AT THE END OF THIS POST. 

 

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Now here are the stats that are behind May and season-to-date team performance.  If you are not a stat person, scroll ahead to the stories and events of the month. 

— TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF MAY — 

RUNS SCORED (MLB average – 130)

NL: Dodgers – 159; Rockies – 157; Mets – 153

AL: Astros – 180; Red Sox – 159; Rays – 154

AVERAGE (MLB average – .254)

NL: Rockies – .278; Reds – .271; Marlins – .270

AL: Astros – .280; Red Sox – .269; Mariners – .267

HOME RUNS (MLB average – 35)

NL: D-backs – 43; Reds – 40; Cubs – 38

AL: Astros – 52; Rays – 52; Blue Jays – 49

STOLEN BASES (MLB average – 14)

NL: Reds – 34; Nationals – 19; Brewers – 18

AL: Angels – 30; Red Sox – 22; Rangers – 21

Three teams stole five or fewer bases in May: Cubs, three (in six attempts); Mets, four (in seven attempts); Orioles, five (in six attempts).

WALKS DRAWN (MLB average – 94)

NL: Cubs – 112; Dodgers – 110; Pirates – 102

AL: Rays – 120; Tigers 118; Red Sox – 116

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

Only three teams tallied fewer than 100 runs in May: Padres (88); Giants (96); Philies (99). At the bottom of the AL were the Indians (110). The Cubs had MLB’s lowest May batting average at .216; trailing in the AL were the Angels at .233.

MOST BATTERS’ STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 231)

NL: Dodgers – 259; Padres – 249; D-backs – 244

AL: Rays – 319; Tigers- 270; Rangers – 261

FEWEST BATTERS STRIKEOUTS

NL: Mets – 197; Marlins – 209; Nationals – 212

AL: Blue Jays – 186; Astros – 189; Red Sox – 195

—TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF MAY—

EARNED RUN AVERAGE  (MLB average – 4.29)

NL:  Dodgers – 2.94; D-backs – 3.38; Cardinals – 3.47

AL: Astros – 3.60; Indians 3.82; Rays – 3.95

STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 231)

NL: Cubs – 264; Dodgers – 261; Nationals – 256

AL: Astros – 299; Red Sox – 275; Indians – 268

SAVES

NL: Cardinals – 9; Giants 9; Rockies 9

AL: Astros – 11; Rays – 11; Royals 9;

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

Four teams had earned run averages over five for the month of May: Phillies (5.49); Twins (5.25); Reds (5.12); Mets (5.06).

YOU’LL FIND SEASON TO DATE STATS, AFTER THE STANDINGS AT THE END OF THIS POST. 

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Some BBRT observations from May.

Streaking Over .500

On May 9, the Rangers were 13-20.  They broke out of a slump, however, with an 11-0 pounding of the Padres (at San Diego).  Texas went on to fashion the MLB’s longest winning streak so far this year – 10 games from May 9 through May 21. During the streak, they won two on the road and eight at home, outscoring opponents 64-27.  Notably, ten different pitchers picked up a victory each over the ten-win stretch.

On Sale Today – Double-Digit Whiffs

ChrisSaleFrom April 10 to May 19, Red Sox Southpaw Chris Sale made eight starts with ten or more strikeouts in each outing – tying a record he already shared with Pedro Martinez for consecutive games with double-digit K’s.  Here are the steak totals:

  • Pedro Martinez, Red Sox, August 19-September 27, 1999: 61 innings; 107 strikeouts; six wins (one loss); 1.18 ERA.
  • Chris Sale, White Sox, May 23-June 30, 2015: 60 innings; 97 strikeouts; three wins (three losses); 1.80 ERA.
  • Chris Sale, Red Sox, April 10-May 19, 2017: 58 2/3 innings; 88 strikeouts; four wins (two losses); 2.45 ERA.

 

 

A Different – More Positive – Five-for-Twenty

On May 25, The Boston Red Sox used five pitchers to tie the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game – notching 20 K’s in a 6-2 win over the Rangers. Starter Drew Pomeranz fanned 11 in six innings; Heath Hembree, two in two-thirds of an inning; Robby Scott, one in one-third inning; Matt Barnes, two in one inning; and Craig Kimbrell, four in one inning.

The Red Sox needed a four-whiff ninth inning to reach the record-tying 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Closer Craig Kimbrel provided it. He came in with the Red Sox up on the Rangers 6-2 and promptly fanned Texas RF Nomar Mazara, who reached first on a wild pitch. Kimbrel then got C Jonathan Lucroy looking, DH Rougned Odor swinging and 1B Mike Napoli swinging.

This made Kimbrel just the fourth pitcher to throw a four-strikeout inning AND an “immaculate” inning (three K’s on nine pitches in their careers.  The others are: A.J. Burnett, Kenley Jansen, Felix Hernandez and Justin Masterson.

This was the sixth 20-strikeout, nine-inning contest in MLB history – four of which were completed by a single pitcher (Roger Clemens, Red Sox 1986 & 1996; Kerry Wood, Cubs, 1998; Max Scherzer, Nationals, 2016.)  The Dodgers also used five pitcherS in a 20-strikeout, nine-inning contest September 25, 2012 .  On May 8, Randy Johnson (D-backs) fanned 20 batters in nine innings, but left with the score tied 1-1. Five relievers added one strikeout as the D-backs topped the Reds 4-3 in eleven innings.

In Memorial … Started with the Phillies, Ended Up with the Senators

BunningOn May 26, baseball lost Hall of Famer Jim Bunning (complications from a stroke).  Bunning not only had a seventeen-season, HOF-worthy baseball career, but went on to become the only Hall of Famer to serve in Congress.  Bunning pitched in the major leagues from 1955 through 1972 (Tigers, Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates). After leaving baseball, Bunning, who had a degree in Economics from Xavier University, served as the U.S. Congressional Representative for Kentucky’s Fourth District from 1987-99 and as a U.S. Senator from Kentucky from 1999-2011.

I … thought that being able to throw a curveball never was a bad skill for a politician to have.”

      Jim Bunning, Baseball Hall of Famer/United States Senator

The 6’ 3” side-armer was known as an intimidating presence on the mound – once leading the NL in hit batters for four consecutive seasons (1964-67). He was a 20-game winner (20-8, 2.69 in 1957) and a four-time 19-game winner.  A few more Bunning baseball facts, he:

  • Was 224-187, with a 3.27 ERA and 2,855 strikeouts over his career;
  • Pitched a no-hitter with the Tigers (July 20, 1958);
  • Pitched a perfect game for the Phillies (June 21, 1964);
  • Was a nine-time All Star;
  • Led his league in wins once, strikeouts three times, and shutouts twice;
  • Threw an “immaculate” inning (nine pitches, three strikeouts) on August 2, 1959.

Another Immaculate Inning

On May 18, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen closed the door on the Miami Marlins in the Dodgers’ 7-2 win.  Jansen threw the third “immaculate” inning (three strikeouts on the nine pitches) of the 2017 season. Jansen came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Dodgers up 5-2 and got the final out by fanning catcher J.T. Realmuto on five pitches (which would seem inefficient in the ninth). In the bottom of the frame Jansen beat out an infield single (more #WhyIHateTheDH), as the Dodgers up the lead to 7-2.

In the ninth, Jansen fanned 3B Derek Dieterich on three pitches (all looking); SS J.T. Riddle on three pitched (swinging, looking, looking) and pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki on three pitches (looking, foul ball, swinging).  On April 17, the Reds’ reliever Drew Storen also threw an immaculate inning – while on May 14th, the Nationals’ Max Scherzeer accomplished the feat.

IMMACULATE INNINGS ON THE RISE

There have been 83 “immaculate” innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches) in MLB history –accomplished by 77 pitchers.  Sandy Koufax holds the MLB the record with three such frames. The emergence of fireballing relievers is reflected in the fact that 36 of the 83 occurrences have come since 2000. By contrast the 1950’s and 1960’s saw only 11.

More #WhyIHateTheDH … The Short and the Long of It

On May 18, the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman – who hardly ever gets a chance to step in the batter’s box – hit his first career home run.  It came in the fourth inning of Blue Jays 9-0 win over the Braves in Atlanta. (Stroman pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.)  The home run was just the 5’8”, 180-pound Stroman’s second career hit (12 at bats) – both this season – a double and the home run.   The last Blue Jays’ pitcher to homer before Stroman was at the other end of the height spectrum – 6’9”, 240-pound  Mark Hendrickson – who went deep back in 2003.

A Grand Occasion

On May 16, Cubs manager Joe Maddon reached a significant milestone – notching his 1,000th career major league managerial win as his Cubs topped the Reds 9-5.  Maddon is a three-time Manager of the Year and, of course, broke the Cubs’ curse last season – with a 103-win campaign and a World Series Championship.

Slump-Breaking 101 – Do it in Style

Tigers’ outfield Tyler Collins knows how to break a slump. Going into the Tigers’ May 17 game against the Orioles, Collins was in a zero-for-thirty slump (his last hit had come on May 1). During the slump, his average had dropped from .304 to .216  On the 17th, he broke out in a big way – going three-for-four with two home runs, a double and four RBI (getting his average back up to .238). Unfortunately, that game looks like an outlier – Collins got only two more hits in May (29 at bats) and ended the month at an even .200.

THE NAME GAME

In 2013, Christian Arroyo  graduated from Hernando High School in Brooksville, Florida and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants. Eighteen year earlier another Arroy0 – Bronson Arroyo (no relation) graduated from Hernando High as was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  On May 5, the 21-year-old rookie Arroyo (Christian) was playing 3B and batting sixth for the Giants, while the now 40-year-old Arroyo (in his 16th MLB season) was on the mound for the Reds. The first time they faced each other, youth won the day, as Christian homered off Bronson. (It was Christian Arroyo’s only hit of the day. Bronson, however, could leave the contest with a smile – he got the win, as the Reds topped the Giants 13-3.)

On May 6, as the Dodgers faced off against the Padres, CLAYTON Kershaw was on the mound, throwing to battery mate AUSTIN Barnes. The Padres countered with CLAYTON Richard on the mound and AUSTIN Hedges behind the plate. Are those monikers really that popular?  Note: Clayton (the Kershaw one) got the win, while Clayton (the Richard one) took the loss, as the Dodgers triumphed 10-2. The Dodgers’ Austin (Barnes) also outperformed his counterpart Austin (Hedges) – going two-for-four to Hedges’ zero-for-three with a walk.

Finally, The Chicago White Sox have had occasion this season to start an outfield lineup of Avisail GARCIA, Leury GARCIA and Willy GARCIA – not related.

The Big Ouch

On May 29, the Twins went into the eighth inning with an 8-2 lead over the Houston Astros (in a battle of division leaders). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Astro were 0-659 in their history when trailing by six or more runs after six innings.  Make that 1-659, Houston scored 11 in the eighth and and three more in the ninth for a 16-8 win.

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Now individual batting and pitching leaders for May.

MONTH OF MAY BATTING LEADERS

AVERAGE (minimum75 at bats)

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – .359; Matt Kemp, Braves – .357; Buster Posey, Giants – .344

AL: Carlos Correa, Astros – .386); Marwin Gonzalez, Astros – .382; Eric Hosmer, Royals – .367

HOME RUNS

NL: Justin Bour, Marlins- 11; Jake  Lamb, D-backs – 9; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 9

AL: Yonder Alonso, Oakland – 10; Logan Morrison, Rays – 10; four with nine

RBI

NL: Adam Duvall, Reds 28; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 27; Jake Lamb – D-backs – 24

AL: Carlos Correa, Astros – 26; four with 22

RUNS SCORED

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds – 27; Michael Confroto, Mets – 25; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 25

AL: Corey Dickerson, Rays – 27; four with 23

STOLEN BASES

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds – 18; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 12; Trea Turner, Nationals – 9

AL: Camerin Maybin, Angels – 10; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 7; five with six

WALKS

NL: Joey Votto, Reds – 28; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 19; Kris Bryant, Cubs – 19

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 22; Camerin Maybin, Angels -21; two with 18

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The lowest May average (minimum 50 at bats) goes to the Tigers’ Tyler Collins at .108 (7-for-65). In the NL, the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber hit .120 in May (10-for 83).

The MLB leader in whiffs for May was the Orioles’ Chris Davis (46 strikeouts in 99 at bats), while the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger  led the NL with 40 May strikeouts (106 at bats). Still, Davis put up a .222-8-16 line, while Bellinger was even more productive at .245-9-27.  I’d call these Dave “Kingman Country.”

—MAY INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS—

WINS

NL: Alex Wood, Dodgers – 5-0, 1.27; six with four wins

AL: Chris Sale, White Sox – 5-0, 4.24; four with four wins

EARNED RUN AVERAGE (minimum 25 innings)

NL:  Carlos Martinez, Cardinals  – 2.03; Zack Goldley, D-backs – 2.20; Max Scherzer, Nationals, 2.27

AL: Lance McCullers, Astros – 0.99; Michael Fulmer, Tigers – 2.19; Derek Holland. White Sox – 2.56

STRIKEOUTS

NL:  Max Scherzer, Nationals – 60 (43 2/3 IP); Jeff Samardzija, Giants – 49 (40 2/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 48 (36 1/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 58 (40 1/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 58 (40 IP); two with 45

The May leader (among starters) in strikeouts per nine innings was Chris Archer of the Rays at 13.05, followed closely by the Dodgers Alex Wood at 13.02.

SAVES

NL: Greg Holland, Rockies – 8; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 7; Jim Johnson, Braves – 7

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 10; Kelvin Herrera, Royals – 9; three with eight

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The highest May earned run averages (minimum 25 innings pitched) goes to the Phillies’ Zach Elfin and D-backs’ Pat Corbin – both at 9.00. (Corbin, however, went 2-2 on the month.) Dylan Covey of the White Sox came close in the AL at 8.87.

Individual stats through May follow the standing and team stats below.

StatsMay

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—TEAM OFFENSIVE STATS THROUGH MAY 31—

RUNS SCORED (MLB average – 239)

NL: Nationals – 286; Rockies – 276; Dodgers – 271

AL: Astros – 292; Yankees – 268; Rays – 265

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

Only three teams scored fewer than 200 runs through May 31: Royals (178); Giants (183); Padres (190). No surprise, those same three teams were at the bottom in terms of average as well: Padres (.221); Giants (.228); Royals (.231).

AVERAGE (MLB average – .251)

NL: Nationals – .275; Marlins – .265; Rockies – .264

AL: Astros – .277; Red Sox – .269; Yankees – .266

HOME RUNS (MLB average – 64)

NL: Nationals – 77; Brewers – 74; D-backs 74

AL: Rays – 83; Astros – 82; Yankees 76

The Rays led all of MLB with 83 home runs through May.  This free-swining group also topped MLB in strikeouts over that period at 577. The Brewers were next at 496.

The Red Sox and Giants were the only two teams to not reach 50 home runs through May 31 – sitting at 48 and 42, respectively.

WALKS DRAWN  (MLB average – 175)

NL: Dodgers – 209; Cubs – 208; Pirates  – 189

AL: Rays – 218; Tigers – 208; Twins – 205

STOLEN BASES (MLB average – 27)

NL: Reds – 57; D-backs – 48; Brewers – 43

AL: Angels – 43; Rangers – 43; Mariners – 34

The Rockies and Orioles stole the fewest sacks through May. The Orioles had 12 (in just 16 attempts) and the Rockies 12 (in 24 attempts.) The Rockies’ 50 percent success rate was MLB’s lowest, while their Reds led the way with an 82.6 percent success rate.

 

—TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31—

EARNED RUN AVERAGE  (MLB average – 4.20)

NL: Dodgers – 3.20; D-backs – 3.59; Cardinals –  3.75

AL: Astros – 3.49; Yankees – 3.82; Rays – 3.83

STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 433)

NL: D-backs – 506; Dodgers – 503; Cubs – 479

AL: Astros – 537; Red Sox – 504; Indians – 504

FEWEST WALKS (MLB – average – 239)

NL: Dodgers – 147; Pirates – 151; Nationals – 159

AL: Red Sox – 132; Indians – 146; Yankees – 150

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The NL’s worst earned run average through May belonged to the Phillies (4.95); while the Tigers were at the bottom of the AL (4.70).

The six worst starting rotation ERA’s belonged to NL team, with the Phillies at the bottom (5.95). Cleveland was at the bottom of the AL (4.79).

Two teams had bullpen ERA’s of 5.00 or higher through May: Twins (5.33) and Rangers (5.00). The worst bullpen ERA in the NL belonged to the Nationals at 4.82.

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Now let’s looik at individual leaders.

—BATTING LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31—

AVERAGE (minimum 150 at bats)

NL: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – .368; Buster Posey, Giants – .348; Zach Cozart, Reds – .347.

AL: Jean Segura, Mariners – .344; Corey Dickerson, Rays- .341; Mike Trout, .337

HOME RUNS

NL: Scott Schebler, Reds – 16; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – 15; Bryce Harper, Nationals- 15; Justin Bour, Marlins – 15

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 17; Mike Trout, Angels – 15; – Khris Davis, A’s – 16;  Joey Gallo, Rangers – 16

RBI

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 46; Adam Duvall, Reds – 45; Jake Lamb, D-backs – 45

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 42; Miguel Sano, Twins – 39; Albert Pujols, Angels – 38

RUNS SCORED

NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 46; Bruce Harper, Nationals – 44, Eric Thames, Brewers – 42

AL: Corey Dickerson, Rays – 40; Aaron Judge, Yankees – 40; George Springer Astros – 39

STOLEN BASES

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds; – 28 Dee Gordon Marlins -16; Jose Pereza, Red – 14

AL: Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 14; Cameron Maybin, Angels – 13; Lorenzo Cain, Royals – 12; Elvis Andrus, Rangers –  12

EXTRA STAT OF THE DAY

Through May, no hitter has been hit by more pitches than Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo (12). In the AL, the leader is the Angels’ Martin Maldanado with eight. If you are interested, “Brawlin’ Bryce Harper has been plunked once.

WALKS

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 39; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 39; Kris Bryant, Cubs – 35

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 36*; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – 31; Miguel Sano, Twins – 31

*Ten of Mike Trout’s 31 free passes have been intentinal – which leads all of MLB.

Your strikeout “kings” through May are: Orioles’ Chris Davis – 79 whiffs in 175 at bats to go with a .223-10-18 line; and (in the NL) Brewers’ Kedon Broxton – 67 strikeouts in 161 at bats to go with a .248-5-15 line.

—PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH MAY—

WINS

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 7-2, 2.37; Antonio Senzatel – 7-2, 3.49; four with six

AL: Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 8-0, 1.81; Erwin Santans,Twins – 7-2, 1.75; six with six

EARNED RUN AVERAGE (Minimum 50 innings)

NL: Mike Leake, Cardinals – 2.24; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.37; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.56

AL: Erwin Santana, Twins – 1.75; Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 1.81; Derek Holland, White Sox – 2.37

STRIKEOUTS

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 100 (77 1/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 92 (68 IP); three  with 84

AL: Chris Sale, White Sox – 110 (78 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 95 (79 1/3 IP); Marco Estrada, Blue Jays – 78 (68 2/3 IP)

SAVES

NL: Greg Holland, Rockies – 19; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 13; Seung-Hwan Oh, 12

AL:  Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox – 15; Alex Colome, Rays – 15; two with 14

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched belongs to the Braves’ Bartolo Colon at 6.99. In the AL, the worst ERA  (again, at least 50 IP) goes to Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimebnez at 6.66.

Among the sources for this post: ESPN.com; MLB.com; SABR; Baseball-Reference.com

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2017 John Paciorek Award to Chris Saenz

JPA2In 2014, BRT launched its own baseball recognition – The John Paciorek Award (JPA). The JPA recognizes players who have had short, most often very short, major league careers, but whose accomplishments, nonetheless, deserve recognition.  (Note: Information on John Paciorek’s career – the inspiration for the JPA – can be found at the end of this post. Paciorek’s day in the sun constitutes arguably the best one-game MLB career ever.)

________________ 2017 JPA Winner – Chris Saenz _______________

SaenzThis year, BBRT honors right-handed pitcher Chris Saenz with the JPA – for making his one-game stint on the MLB pitcher’s mound truly memorable. Saenz’ big day came on April 24, 2004 and was made possible by a combination of an injury to Brewers’ starting pitcher Chris Capauno, an overworked Brewers’ bullpen and the fact that Saenz had started at Double A five days earlier, so a spot start for the Brewers would keep him on his pitching schedule. It was, in a way, the perfect storm for an unexpected MLB debut.

Saenz – a Brewers top-30 prospect in his fourth pro season – was called up from Double A Huntsville (where he was 1-1, 3.86) to make a spot start against the Saint Louis Cardinals, whose powerful lineup included the likes of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders.  (The Cardinals would lead the NL in runs scored, batting average and finish second in home runs that season, while making it to the World Series.) Let’s look at how things went for Saenz, before we examine how the 6’3”, 200-pound righty worked his way to the mound that day – and the factors that made it his only MLB appearance.  

The first MLB batter Saenz faced was Cardinal second baseman Bo Hart and the Milwaukee pitcher got his MLB career of to a good start, fanning Hart (swinging) on three pitches. (No surprise there, Saenz consistently struck out more than a batter per inning in the minors.) Saenz then seemed to pick up a minor case of MLB-debut jitters, sandwiching a single and a pair of walks around a foul pop out, before getting Redbirds’ SS Edgar Renteria to fly out – ending a shaky, but scoreless, first big league inning.

When he came out for the second, Saenz seemed to have settled down and found his proverbial groove. He recorded a 1-2-3 second, with two strikeouts.  In the third, the only batter to reach was Pujols (hit by pitch) and Saenz picked up a fourth strikeout. The Cardinals went down in order in the fourth and fifth innings, with  Saenz notching two more strikeouts.  Pujols managed a single off Saenz in the sixth, but was the only base runner in the inning. Saenz walked Renteria (on a 3-2 pitch) to open the seventh – and his first day (and career) in the majors was done.

Not a bad day’s work (yes, it was a day game) for a raw rookie: six innings pitched, two hits, three walks, no runs and seven strikeouts.  For those who track such things, Bo Hart faced Saenz three times that day (first, third and fifth innings) and struck out swinging all three times.  Two was a lucky number for Saenz, as the Brewers scored two times (on two hits) in the first inning to ensure Saenz the win (Milwaukee 3 – St, Louis 1); Hart, Saenz’ most frequent strikeout victim was playing at the two-bag for the Cardinals; and the game was played in front of an announced attendance of 22,222 fans.

A ONE-OF-A-KIND …  SINGLE-GAME CAREER …  PERFORMANCE

While statistics before 1900 can be sketchy, baseball-reference.com shows that Saenz is the only pitcher to complete a one-game MLB career of at least five innings pitched, without giving up a single run (earned or unearned). Five pitchers before 1900 had one-game careers of at least five innings that resulted in a 0.00 ERA, but they all (Jack Keenan, Frank Kreeger, Clay Fauver, George Snyder and George Stultz) gave up unearned tallies in those efforts.

There was some speculation (primarily among sportswriter and fans) that Saenz’ performance might earn him another start or two, but two days after his debut, he was on his way back to Huntsville.  For the year at Huntsville, he went 5-5, 4.15 with 84 strikeouts in 84 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, his season included a September elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery and set his career back (eventually ending it.)

So, how did Saenz earn his day in the major leagues? He was signed by the Brewers (28th round of the 2001 Major League Draft) out of Pima Community College in Tucson Arizona.

Saenz started his pro career (at age 19) with the Pioneer (rookie) League Ogden Raptors.  He showed solid potential, appearing in 21 games (four starts) and going 3-1, 4.24 with 14 walks and 48 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings.  His ability to fan at least a batter an inning would be a trademark of his professional career. In 2003, Saenz moved up to the Low A Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League – where he pitched 37 games (all in relief) and went 3-5, with eight saves and a respectable 3.51 ERA. He did walk 32 batters in 74 1/3 innings, but his 99 strikeouts (12 per nine innings) were impressive. The following season (2003) saw Saenz work primarily as a starter (26 starts in 27 appearances) mostly with the High A High Desert Mavericks of the California League – although he did get in one game with the Double A Huntsville Stars of the Southern League. Saenz went 9-9, 5.04, working on command issues (59 walks in 134 innings), but maintained his bat-missing stuff (142 strikeouts).

Then came 2004, his early season call up to the Brewers, his return to Huntsville and his Tommy John surgery.  After missing the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Saenz attempted a comeback,  signing with the Angels in 2007 and playing with the  Arkansas Travelers of the Double A Texas League – where things did not go well (1-7, with an 8.41 ERA and 31 walks versus 24 strikeouts in 46 innings). The Angels released Saenz and he finished the season with the Reno Silver Sox of the Independent Golden Baseball League, where he found more frustration – 0-4, 8.10 with 16 walks and 22 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.  Saenz gave it one last try in 2008, with the independent Northern League Schaumburg Flyers, where he went 1-1, 8.42, with 15 walks and 18 whiffs in 25 2/3 innings.  He retired from professional baseball at the age of 26.  Still, Saenz is one of the fortunate few to have their day in the major league sun – and to have proven on that day that he truly belonged.

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PAST JOHN PACIOREK AWARD WINNERS:

2014 – Brian Scott Dallimore

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

2015 – Roy Gleason

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

2016 – John Allen Miller

Miller played just 32 MLB games (during the 1966 and 1969), taking the field (at 1B/LF/3B/2B) for the Yankees and Dodgers. Miller collected ten hits in 61 MLB at bats (.164 average) and hit just two home runs – but he made those long balls count.  Miller made his MLB debut with the Yankees on September 11, 1966 and hit a two-run homer in his first big league at bat –  making him (surprisingly) the first Yankee ever to homer in his first MLB at bat. (Little did Miller know he would not get another home run or RBI until the final at bat of his MLB career.)  Miller’s final at bat came as a Dodger (September 23, 1969) and he stroked a solo home run.  That narrow “body of work” made Miller one of just two players in MLB history to homer in their first and final official appearances in a major league batter’s box. For more on Miller, click here.

 

INSPIRATION FOR THE JPA

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

 

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

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

 

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

MLB Games – the Long(est) and Short(est) of It

Chasen Shreve Yankees photo

Chasen Shreve went the final three innings fanning five –  for the win as the Yankees topped the Cubs in 18 innings.  Photo by Keith Allison

It’s kind of appropriate that today (May 8, 2017), BBRT is looking back at yesterday’s Cubs/Yankees tilt – an 18-inning, six-hour and five-minute battle that will, ultimately, be most noted for the fact that the 15 pitchers who took the mound fanned an MLB single-game record 48 batters.  (FYI- The Yankees won it 5-4.)  The game fell well short of MLB’s longest in terms of time (which began on this date in 1984) or innings.  Later in this post, we’ll look at MLB’s longest and shortest games.  First, however, a few “factoids” from yesterday’s tilt.

 

  • Yankee pitchers fanned 26 hitters, Cubs’ hurlers whiffed 22. Strikeouts accounted for 44 percent of the total outs.
  • Two hitters accounted for 36 percent of the Yankee batters’ strikeouts – outfielder Aaron Hicks and third basemen Chase Headley each fanned a game-high four times (no other Yankee whiffed more than twice, while the Cubs had five players with three strikeouts).
  • A lot of bats were missed; there were 38 swinging strikeouts versus ten called.
  • The Cubs went into the bottom of the ninth down by three, but tied it up against Yankees’ star closer Aroldis Chapman on three singles, two walks, and a hit batter. There was no more scoring until the 18th.
  • The first ten batters in extra innings went down on strikes.
  • Both starting pitchers (Yankees’ Luis Severino and Cubs’ Jon Lester) went seven innings and notched nine strikeouts.
  • Three strikeout innings were notched by the Cubs’ Wade Davis (10th); Yankees’ Tyler Clippard (10th); Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr. (11th); and Yankees’ Jonathan Holder (14th).
  • The Yankees left 22 runners on base, the Cubs stranded 30.

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Now for the long and short of MLB games. 

LONGEST GAME (BY TIME)

May 8, 1984 – Brewers/White Sox – 8 hours and 6 minutes – with an asterisk*

Tom Seaver's only win in relief came in MLB longest-ever game (time-wise).

Tom Seaver’s only win in relief came in MLB longest-ever game (time-wise).

MLB’s longest-ever (time-wise) game started on May 8, 1984 and, like yesterday’s Yankees and Cubs contest, it was played in Chicago.  This time it was at (old) Comiskey and the home town White Sox prevailed 7-6 in 25-innings, taking a record-long eight hours and six minutes.  I do give and asterisk to this one – since it was not continuous play.  The game started at 7:30 p.m. and was suspended after seven innings (at 1:05 a.m.) due to the MLB curfew rule then in force.  It finished up the next day.

There were plenty of chances for this one to end earlier. The game was tied 1-1 going into the ninth, when the Brewers scored twice to take the lead. The White Sox came back with two of their own in the bottom of the inning – and the teams played on.  No one scored again until the top of the 21st, when the Brewers put up a three-spot.  The White Sox, however, scored three of their own in the bottom of the inning – and the teams played on. Finally, with one out in the bottom of the 25th White Sox’ RF Harold Baines hit a walk off home run (making it, of course, the latest walk-off long ball ever) against Chuck Porter (starting his eighth inning of relief) to win it for the ChiSox.  A few tidbits:

  • White Sox’ CF Rudy Law, C Carlton Fisk and 2B Julio Cruz, as well as Milwaukee DH Cecil Cooper each had 11 at bats in the game.
  • Chicago’s Dave Stegman, who came on as a pinch runner for DH Greg Luzinski in the 8th and stayed in to play LF, struck out a game-high five times in eight at bats.
  • The teams used a combined 14 pitchers (six for the Brewers, eight for the White Sox).
  • Two relievers went seven or more innings: losing pitcher Chuck Porter of the Brewers (7 1/3); Juan Agosta of the White Sox (7 innings).
  • The winning pitcher was future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who pitched the 25th inning for the ChiSox. It was Seaver’s only relief appearance of the season (one of just nine in his career) and his only career win in relief (he also had one save and two losses in that role).
  • Five future Hall of Famers played in the game: for the White Sox – catcher Carlton Fisk and winning pitcher Tom Seaver; for the Brewers – starting pitcher Don Sutton, SS Robin Yount and closer Rollie Fingers (who blew the save in the ninth).
  • Outside of Harold Baines’ walk-off home run, White Sox’ LF Tom Paciorek was (arguably) the hitting star of the game, going five-for-nine, with one run and three RBI (no one else had five safeties). LF Ben Ogilvie went two-for-ten for the Brewers, but added a home run and four RBI.

LONGEST GAME BY INNINGS – AND HOW THE GAME HAS CHANGED

On May 1, 1920, the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) and Boston Braves locked up in the longest MLB duel ever – by innings – playing to a 1-1 ties over 26 innings.  This one gets a special nod, since it is also the longest game in which both starting pitchers were on the mound for the entire game. (My, how the game has changed.)

Starting pitchers Leon Cadore of Brooklyn and Joe Oeschger of Boston each threw more than 300 pitches (analysts estimate Cardore at 345 and Oeschger at 319) in completing their 26-inning, record-setting starts. Cadore gave up 15 hits and five walks, while fanning seven; while Oeschger allowed only nine hits and four walks, while also striking out seven batters.   Oh, and here’s another sign of how the game has changed, the time of the 26-inning contest was only 3 hours and 50 minutes.  The Robins scored their lone tally in the fifth, the Braves in the sixth – followed by 20 innings of scoreless ball.

LONGEST CONTINUOUSLY PLAYED GAME (BY TIME)

Perry

BBRT give special recognition to the second-longest MLB game ever – and the longest in terms of continually play – The San Francisco Giants 8-6 win over the New York Mets on May 31, 1964.  This one took seven hours and 23 minutes – and was the second game of a doubleheader.

  • Each team used six pitchers in the contest.
  • Tom Sturdivant and Larry Bearnath of the Mets pitched in both games of the doubleheader – with Bearnath throwing seven scoreless innings after giving up one run in two innings in Game One of the Twin bill.
  • Galen Cisco, who took the loss for the Mets, pitched nine innings in relief (giving up two runs on five hits).
  • Gaylord Perry got the win for the Giants, tossing ten scorlesss innings in relief (seven hits, one walk, nine strikeouts). Bob Hendley got the save.
  • Five Mets and three Giants notched ten at bats in the game.
  • Gil Garrido, Jim Davenport and Willie Mays also spent some time at SS for the Giants during the game.
  • The list of pinch hitters used by the Giants was pretty impressive: Duke Snider; Willie McCovey; Matty Alou; Del Crandall; Cap Peterson. Mets’ pinch hitters were not as well known: rJesse Gonder; George Altman; Dick Smith; Hawk Taylor; John Stephenson.
  • Four hitters collected four hits: Giants – RF Jesus Alou (four-for-ten, one run, two RBI) and C Tom Haller (four-for-ten, one run, one RBI); Mets- RF Joe Christopher (four-for-ten, two runs, three RBI and the game’s only homer) and 3B Charley Smith (four-for-nine, one RBI).
  • The Giants led 6-1 after three innings, but the Mets tied it with two in the sixth and three in the seventh. Then there was no scoring until the top of the 23rd.
  • Five future Hall of Famers played in the game for the Giants – Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Duke Snider.
  • The first game went just nine innings and two hours and 29 minutes. It does mean fans got nine hours and 52 minutes of baseball for the price of one ticket – which, by the way, is the longest MLB double header ever in terms of game time. (Note: The longest double header ever in terms to total time came on July 2, 1993.  The Padres and Phillies split a pair of games in Philadelphia. Game One: SD 5-2 over Philadelphia. Game Two: Philadelphia 6-5 over the Padres.  It took a total of 12 hours and five minutes, including two rain delays totalling 4 four hours and 44 minutes and a 25-minute break between games).

 

SHORTEST GAME EVER – NINE INNINGS IN 51 MINUTES

LIKE SPEED DATING

On September 28, 1919, the Phillies took on the Giants in New York, with Philadelphia’s Lee Meadows (12 wins and 19 losses) taking on New York’s Jesse Barnes (24-9).  The outcome was as expected, Giants 6 – Phillies 1. The game featured a total of 18 hits and three walks.  None of this is surprising.  What is surprising, however, is that it took just 51 minutes to play the entire nine innings.  Now, THAT is pace of game.

SHORTEST DOUBLEHEADER

The shortest doubleheader (game time) ever was completed in two hours and seven minutes of game time.  It was September 26, 1926 in Saint Louis – but did not involve the Cardinals.   In Game One, the Saint Louis Browns topped the Yankees 6-1 in 1 hours and 12 minutes.  The Browns also won Game Two, this time by a 6-2 score, in just 55 minutes.

Baseball-almanac.com, baseball-reference.com and the Society for American Baseball Research proved valuable resources for this post.

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

Baseball Reliquary 2017 Honorees – Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, Charlie Brown

I’ve asked this before, but it’s clearly the best way to introduce the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals.

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

ReliquaryNewThese diverse individuals are all past electees to The Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals – an honor that recognizes individuals who have had impact on our national pastime that goes beyond statistics and touches upon the culture and character of the game.  In essence, the Shrine of the Eternals is our national pastime’s fan-focused hall of fame. (And this year, you can add a broadcasting legend, a pop-culture icon and a cartoon character to the list. More on that in a bit.)

The Baseball Reliquary this week announced its latest (2017) Shrine of the Eternals electees, who will be enshrined during ceremonies slated for 2:00 p.m., Sunday July 16th, at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. (For more information, call 626-791-7647.)  The honorees for this Shrine of the Eternals 19th indusction ceremony include:

  • Vin Scully, who spent 67 years as a Dodgers’ broadcaster and whose voice became as much a sound of the game as the crack of the bat meeting the ball, the slap of the horsehide sphere into a leather mitt, the unique whirr of a good curveball and the shouts of beer and hot dog vendors.
  • Bob Uecker, former MLB player who translated his knowledge of the game, .200 career batting average and self-deprecrating sense of humor into an off-the-field career as a broadcaster, actor, comedian and (pun intended) pitchman.
  • Charlie Brown, a cartoon character whose love the game and enduring sense of optimism taught us some important life lessons from atop the pitcher’s mound.

Before taking a closer look at this year’s electees (and BBRT’s ballot), I’d like to provide a brief overview of both the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals. Let me begin by saying, if you are a baseball fan, I would highly recommend you consider membership in the Baseball Reliquary – a truly free-spirited (if somewhat eccentric) organization dedicated to celebrating the human side of baseball’s history and heritage.  The Baseball Reliquary is an open and fan-focused organization, committed to recognizing baseball’s place in American culture and to honoring the character and characters of the national pastime. It pursues that mission through its collection of artifacts, traveling exhibitions, ties to the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies and (perhaps, most visibly) through its own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame – the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary, and why you should become a member, click here.

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

The Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals

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

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

Each year, the Baseball Reliquary submits a list of candidates to its members and the top three vote-getters are honored.  With that background behind us, let’s take a look at the 2017 honorees.   Note: voting percentages for all the candidates can be found at the end of this post.  For more on the Shrine of the Eternals, click here

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2017 SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS HONOREES

Vin Scully (1927-  ) – 59.5%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

If anyone’s career is appropriate to a spot in the Shrine of the Eternals, its Vincent Edward “Vin” Scully – whose career as a baseball broadcaster was a close to eternal as anyone has ever come – 67 years behind the microphone. (Note: Scully’s total of 59.5 percent of the vote is the highest figure since the annual Shrine of the Eternals election process was inaugurated in 1999, topping the 53 percent totals of Bill “Spaceman” Lee in 2000 and Buck O’Neil in 2008.)  Scully was the voice of the Dodgers from 1950 until his retirement after the 2016 season, as well as NBC’s lead television broadcaster for much of the 1980s and the voice of the World Series for CBS radio in the 1990s.

“Let’s all take a deep breath as we go to the most dramatic ninth inning in the history of baseball. I’m going to sit back, light up, and hope I don’t chew the cigarette to pieces.”

               Vin Scully calling the final inning of Don Larsen’s 1956                   World Series perfect game.

I have never seen an exact count of the number of games Scully “called” during his career, but we do know he was on the broadcast team for 28 World Series, 21 no-hitters and three perfect games.  The fact is, the fluid sound of Scully’s voice and his often poetic anecdotes, became as much the sound of major league baseball as the crack of the bat, the slap of leather ball into leather glove or the shouts of vendors eager to part with hot dogs or beer.

It may sound corny, but I enjoyed listening to Vin call a game almost more than playing in them.

                                                          Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax

How impressive are Vin Scully’s credentials?  Here are just of few of the recognitions he has received: Baseball Hall of Fame Ford Frick Award (1982); Lifetime Achievement Emmy and induction into National Radio Hall of Fame (1995); three-time national Sportscaster of the Year (1965, 1978, 1982); American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame (1992) and Sportscaster of the Century (2000) recognitions; MLB Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award (2014); and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Again these are just a few of his recognitions. (Scully, for example, was also named California Sportscaster of the Year 32 times, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more than one street named after him.)  And now, he will take his place in the Shrine of the Eternals.  Can’t wait for the speech.  For more on Scully, you might try The Vin Scully Story, by Carl Smith (2009).

Bob Uecker (1934- ) – 37%

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Photo courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary/

Dubbed “Mr. Baseball” by TV talk show host Johnny Carson for his tongue-in-cheek approach to the national pastime, Bob Uecker will finally get his seat “in the front row” – at this year’s Shrine of the Eternals induction ceremony.

Uecker has clearly made baseball his life and Milwaukee his hardball home.  Born and raised in Milwaukee, Uecker grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers and signed his first professional contract with the major-league Milwaukee Braves (1956). Uecker – a catcher by trade – made his big league debut with the Braves in 1962 (after six minor league seasons, during which he played 557 games and hit .274, with 78 home runs and 254 RBI). In six major league seaons (Braves, Cardinals, Phillies), Uecker played in 297 games and hit an even .200, with 14 home runs and 74 RBI.

Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit.

                                               Bob Uecker, reflecting on his MLB career

Uecker retired as a player after the 1967 season and began a full-time career as play-by-play announcer for Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 – a position he still holds. Over the years, he has also served as a baseball color commentator for ABC (1970s) and NBC (1990s); hosted a pair of syndicated sports television shows; appeared as broadcaster Harry Doyle in the “Major League” movies; and played a key character in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. Uecker received the National Baseball Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award for his work as a baseball broadcaster in 2003.

What separates Uecker from many former players-turned-broadcasters is his dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, of his original signing, he says “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for three-thousand dollars. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scrapped it up.”   Or there’s his comment on catching the knuckleball, “I found the easy way to catch a knuckleball, just wait until it stopped rolling and then pick it up.”

Uecker’s wit (and knowledge of and love for the game) not only earned him a spot in the broadcast booth, but also pop-culture stardom through dozens of appearances on the Tonight Show and a starring role in a series of Miller Lite commercials (as well as his movie and TV roles).

In addition the Ford Frick Award, Uecker was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame (2001); the Braves Wall of Honor (2009); and  on August 31, 2012, the Brewers erected the Uecker Monument outside Miller Park – alongside the statues of  such heroes as Hank Aaron and Robin Yount. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Uecker as Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year five times and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2011.  For more on Uecker, try his book “Catcher in the Wry.”

Charlie Brown (1950-    ) – 25.5%

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Image courtesy of The Baseball Reliquary.

Charlie Brown – created ty the late Charles M. Schulz – takes the field (the mound actually) for the love of the game – and in the process teaches us a lot about humanity and grace (under pressure and in the face of disappointment).

Brown is both the manager of the Peanuts baseball team and, almost always, its pitcher. While he imagines himself as possessing a blazing fastball, sharp-breaking curve and devastating change up, he usually ends up literally being upended and undressed by line drives up the middle.  Still, he shows up and takes his turn on the mound – with optimism – game after game, loss after loss, come rain or shine.   Despite decades of disappointment, Charlie has never lost hope – nor waned in his love of the game.  There is always the next contest or the coming season.

Brown is truly the underdog’s underdog – even his favorite player reflects his approach to the game (and life).  It’s not Mantle, nor Mays, nor Trout, but rather little-known Joe Shlabotnik.  Yet, in his enduring passion for the game and his unbreakable spirit (in the face of what some say is close to 1,000 losses versus single-figure wins), we can all learn a lesson about the importance of optimism, perspective and  perseverance in the face adversity. Note:  At their peak, Charlie Brown and his team’s exploits appeared in more than 2,500 newpapers in 75 countries.

There’s somethng lonely about a ball field when it’s raining.

                                                                                Charlie Brown

As is noted in the final line of Charlie Brown’s Shrine of the Eternals nomination “Yes, Charlie Brown may be a blockhead, but in his unshakeable belief in himself and his imagination, he will always be a winner.”  He clearly won enough hearts to take a place in the Shrine of the Eternals.

Scully, Ueker and Brown join 54 previous inductees to the Shrine of the Eternals. For the full list, click here.

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BBRT’S BALLOT

Now, here’s a look at the candidates BBRT voted for who didn’t make the final three.  Let me add here that one of my favorites – who garnered my vote in past elections – is (sadly) no longer on the ballot.  That would be David Mullany (1908), inventor of the Wiffle® Ball (1953). The basis for my support is that Mullany’s Wiffle Ball changed backyard baseball for millions of young (and old) players and fans – including me. Here are the 2017 nominees that got my vote, but did not receive enough support for 2017 election.

Ted Kluszewski (1924-1988)

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

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

Kluszewski only appeared in one post-season – hitting .391, with three homers and ten RBI in the 1958 World Series (for the White Sox).  True to his form – Big Klu did not strike out even once (25 plate appearance) in the Series.  For trivia buffs, left unprotected in the 1960 expansion draft, Kluszewski hit the first-ever home run for the expansion Angels (a two-run shot in the first inning of the Angels’ first game – April 11 versus the Orioles). He added a punctuation mark, by hitting the Angels’ second–ever home run (a three-run shot) the very next inning. The Angels won 7-2, and (of course) Kluszewski did not strikeout.

Ultimately, however, Big Klu is best remembered for those sleeveless jerseys and muscular arms.  This four-time All Star – whose last name,like mine, ends with “ski” – got my vote for the Shrine.

Mike Marshall (1943-  ) 

I should probably say Doctor Mike Marshall, since this former major league reliever (14 seasons … 1967, 1969-81) earned three college degrees, including a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. Kinesiology is the study of muscle movement and Marshall used his knowledge to develop his own exercise program focused on minimizing stress, reducing injury and accelerating recovery time.  While his unorthodox methods, advanced education and outspoken approach often had him at odds with baseball’s traditionalists (and may be part of the reason he pitched for nine teams in 14 seasons), they did get the job done.

The fact is, we never saw a closer quite like Mike Marshall before he came along – and we’re not likely to see one like him again. In 1974, as a Dodger, he put up the grand-daddy of all relief seasons – setting the record for appearances with 106 and innings pitched in a season in relief at 208 1/3. He finished the campaign 15-12, with a league-topping 21 saves and a 2.42 ERA.  That season, Marshall was called on to go more than one inning in 74 games (68.5 percent of the time); and he toiled three or more innings 22 times. He also relieved in 13 consecutive regular season games – an MLB record later tied (1986) by the Rangers’ Dale Mohorcic. His efforts won him the 1974 Cy Young Award and Sporting News NL pitcher of the year.

Marshall holds the MLB and NL record for games pitched in relief in a season (106 – Dodgers, 1974), as well as the AL record (89 in relief – Twins, 1979 – he also had one start that year).  The Blue Jays’ Mark Eichhorn tied Marshall’s AL record in 1987. Marshall led his league in games pitched four times and saves three times – finishing 97-112, 3.14 with 188 saves.

Marshall currently teaches exercise physiology and operates pitching clinics in Florida. A true “fireman” from an era when closers came in to put out fires and stayed on the mound to ensure they were no flare ups, Marshall got my vote for the Shrine.

Rube Waddell (1876-1914)

Rube Waddell is almost universally recognized as the zaniest player in MLB history – but he also was one of the best (at least when he was focused on the game). Waddell was known t0: leave a ball game to chase fire engines; miss a game he was scheduled to start because he was fishing or playing marbles with neighborhood kids; bring his outfielders in to sit on the grass and then proceed to fan the side; wrestle alligators in the off-season; and (frequently) do battle with owners and managers.  Waddell simply was more interested in the freedom to enjoy life and do things his way than in money or professional stability.  But, when Waddell was on his game, he was arguably the best pitcher of his time. The 6’1”, 195-lb. lefty led the AL in strikeouts six consecutive seasons (1902-1907) – by a wide margin.

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

In 1904, Waddell set a modern (post-1900) MLB record with 349 strikeouts that stood until 1965.  Waddell, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, finished with a 193-143, 2.16 stat line – leading the AL in strikeouts six times, ERA twice, wins once and complete games once. For more on Waddell, BBRT suggests: Rube Waddell: The Zany, Brilliant Life of a Strikeout Artist, by Allan Howard Levy and Just a Big Kid: The Life and Times of Rube Waddell, by Paul Proia.

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1935 –  )

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

Effa Manley (1900-81)

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

Pete Reiser (1919-81)

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

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

Reuben Berman (1890-1977)

On May 16, 1921, during a game between the Giants and Reds at New York City’s Polo Grounds, Reuben Berman captured a foul ball that was hit into the stands. The custom at the time was to return the ball to the playing field.  Some teams even employed security guards to retrieve balls if the fans declined to return them. In extreme cases, arrests were made and charges (larceny) filed.  On that day in May of 1921, Berman, refused to return a foul ball – and, when confronted, tossed the ball deeper into the stands. After what some reported as an exchange of profanities and a minor scuffle, Berman was ejected from the Polo Grounds.  Berman, however, was not done with the Giants.  He filed a lawsuit against the club asserting he was illegally detained and had suffered mental anguish and a loss of reputation because of the incident.  The case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court, which found in Berman’s favor, granting him the sum of $100 (he had asked for $20,000).

The $100 victory is not what got Berman my vote for the Shrine of the Eternals, it was the impact on fans of his stubbornness – and what became known as “Reuben’s Rule” or “Berman’s Law.” Berman’s case was the most important step in establishing the fans’ right to that precious souvenir – an official, game-used baseball. Every time we see a scrum (for a baseball) in the stands, or a one-handed (beer or baby in the other hand) catch of a foul ball, or a smiling youngster showing off his white, red-stitched prize, we can thank Reuben Berman.

John Young (1949-2016)

A 6’3”, 210-pound, left-handed first baseman, John Young hit .325, with four home runs, 60 RBI and 26 stolen bases (in 29 attempts) in 99 games at Single A Lakeland (Tigers’ farm team) as a twenty-year-old (in 1969). The first-round draft choice (16th overall in the 1969 draft) looked like a player with great promise – and, in fact, enjoyed a big league cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1971 (two games, four at bats, two hits, one run, one RBI, one double). A wrist injury derailed his playing career, but didn’t dampen his love for the game and he went on to a long career as a scout.

It was during his scouting days that Young developed a concern for the decline of baseball among young people – particularly in the inner cities.  In response, Young came up with the concept for the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. Officially launched in 1989, the RBI program is now supported by all thirty MLB clubs and is active in approximately 200 communities – with more than 250,000 participants annually.  Overall, MLB teams have donated more than $30 million to the program. (The program also includes educational and life skills components.) A few RBI alumni in the major leagues include: Carl Crawford, Justin Upton, CC Sabathia, James Loney, Manny Machado and Yovani Gallardo.  His good works on behalf of baseball’s future earned my vote.

Bing Russell (1926-2003)

Okay, you are probably more aware of Bing Russell for his role as Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza, as Robert in the original Magnificent Seven movie or for his volume of work on the big and small screen (including more than two dozen movies and even more television roles.) Or, maybe you are aware that his is actor Kurt Russell’s father.

Bing Russell, however is here because his passion for acting was equaled (perhaps even surpassed) by his passion for our national pastime. He’s also here because, as a baseball fan, he got to “live the dream” – owning his own baseball team. Russell’s infatuation with baseball began as a young boy growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida – spring training home of the Yankees. He became the team’s unofficial Florida mascot and errand runner – becoming friends with the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Gomez and Lou Gehrig.  With that friendship came a life-long passion for the national pastime.

Later in life – the early 1970s – Russell translated his acting success into ownership of the independent (Class A) Portland Mavericks – a team whose roster emerged from tryouts involving (as his Shrine of the Eternals nomination points out) “a collection of misfits, reprobates, hangers-on and washouts.”

This collection of last-chance or only-chance players turned professional baseball on its ear, having fun while also taking the measure of its major league-affiliated Northwest League opponents.  The team lasted from 1973-77; never had a losing season; won their Division in 1973, 75, 76 and 77; developed a rabid, involved and fun-loving fan base; and set a short-season minor-league attendance record in 1977 (3,787 per game). Russell also is credited with hiring the first female General Manager – Lanny Moss – in professional baseball; which also turned some heads among baseball’s conservative owners.

Side note: Russell’s players with Portland included Jim Bouton and Russell’s son Kurt Russell – who followed Bing’s passion for baseball and acting.

MLB baseball regained its interest in the Portland area (the Mavericks were born after the Pacific Coast League Portland Beavers moved to Spokane in 1972) and worked to reclaim the territory – an effort that ultimately went to arbitration and earned Russell the highest payout ever (at the time) for minor league territorial rights.

For a great look at this remarkable and entertaining story – check out the 2014 documentary film The Battered Bastards of Baseball.

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THE SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS:  2016 VOTING PERCENTAGES

Vin Scully … 59.5%

Bob  Uecker … 37.0

Charlie Brown … 25.5

Leo Durocher … 24.8

Bob Costas … 23.5

Octavius V. Cato … 23.o

Effa Manley … 23.0

Chet Brewer … 22.0

Charles M. Conlon … 22.0

Charlie Finley … 22.0

J.R. Richard … 22.0

John Young … 20.0

Rocky Colavito … 18.0

Luke Easter … 18.0

Lisa Fernandez … 18.0

Ernie Harwell … 18.0

Mamie Johnson … 18.0

Denny McLain … 18.0

Hideo Nomo … 18.0

Rube Foster … 17.0

Mike Marshall … 17.0

Fred Merkle … 17.0

Pete Reiser … 17.0

Bert Campaneris … 16.0

Ted Kluszewski … 16.0

Bing Russell … 15.0

Annie Savoy … 15.0

Rusty Staub … 15.0

Chris Von der Ahe … 15.0

Tug McGraw … 14.0

Phil Pote … 14.0

John Thorn … 14.0

Dave Parker … 13.0

Nancy Faust … 12.0

Oscar Gamble … 12.0

Dave Okrent .l. 12.0

Joe Pepitone … 12.0

Vic Power … 12.0

Charley Pride … 12.0

Rube Waddell … 12.0

Reuben Berman … 11.0

Jose Canseco … 10.0

Mo’ne Davis … 10.0

Mike Hessman … 10.0

Manuel Perez … 10.0

Margarets Donahue … 8.0

Manny Ramirez … 8.0

Sam Nahem … 7.0

Steve Wilstein … 7.0

Babe Dahlgren … 6.0

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

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