Baseball Bloggers Alliance – 2014 Award Ballot

After each season, members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (an organization of 200+ bloggers dedicated to the national pastime) vote on a series of awards for each league.  Those recognitions include:

  • Willie Mays Award (top rookie)
  • Walter Johnson Award (top starting pitcher)
  • Stan Musial Award (top player)
  • Goose Gossage Award (top relief pitcher)
  • Connie Mack Award (top manager)

BBRT will provide a link to the BBA site once all the winners are announced (later this month).  In this post, I’d like to share BBRT’s votes, as well as some background on my selections and those that were “close” to getting BBRT’s vote.  Your comments on the BBRT selections are welcomed.

 

William Mays Award (top rookie)

 

American League

BBRT vote:  Matt Shoemaker.

Contenders: 2. Jose Abreu   3. Yordano Ventura   4. Masahiro Tanaka

matt-shoemakerThank you Matt Shoemaker – for closing out the year in a way that both: a) prevents me from having to split my AL rookie vote; and b) enables me to vote for a player who more closely fits my personal definition of an MLB “rookie.”

While the smart money may be on Jose Abreu as the AL’s top rookie, BBRT’s vote goes to Angels’ RHP Matt Shoemaker. Undrafted out of college, Shoemaker ran up a 50-42, 4.52 record in seven minor league seasons. He worked his way up to an MLB “cuppa coffee” in 2013 (one game, five scoreless innings), before sticking with the Angels this season.  The 27-year-old, bearded rookie turned in a 16-4 record, with a 3.04 ERA (20 starts, seven relief appearances), with 24 walks and 124 strikeouts in 136 innings. Shoemaker moved passed Abreu on the BBRT ballot thanks to his performance under the pressure of the pennant race.  From August 1 to season’s end, Shoemaker went 8-1, with a 1.66 ERA.

Among the contenders was another 27-year-old – but less traditional – “rookie,” who is a veteran of eight seasons in Cuba (and a former Cuban League MVP). White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu finished in the American League’s top five with a .317 batting average (third-best), 36 homers (third), 107 RBI (fourth), .581 slugging percentage (first), and .383 on-base percentage (fifth).

Additional contenders for BBRT’s vote included:  Kansas City right-handed starter Yordano Ventura, who put together a 14-10, 3.20 season for the play-off Royals and a was key player in the Royals’ drive to the post-season (4-1, 2.41 in six September starts); and a second less traditional rookie, New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who joined the Yankees after six seasons as a star in Japan (including a 24-0, 1.24 record in 2013) and finished an injury-interrupted season at 13-5, 2.77 with 151 strikeouts (versus just 21 walks) in 163 1/3 innings.

 

National League

BBRT vote:  Jacob deGrom

Contenders: 2. Ender Inciarte      3. Billy Hamilton

It’s a tougher call, with less spectacular rookie performances to choose from, in the NL.  BBRT’s vote goes to the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. The 26-year-old southpaw – who ran up a 21-11, 3.62 record in four minor league seasons – went 9-6, with a solid 2.69 ERA in 22 MLB starts.  DeGrom also missed a lot of bats, fanning 144 in 140 1/3 innings.

Finishing close, but behind deGrom in BBRT’s ballot considerations were: Arizona outfielder Ender Inciarte, who hit .278 with four home runs, 27 RBI, 54 runs scored and 19 steals (22 attempts) in 118 games; and Reds’ outfielder-speedster Billy Hamilton. Hamilton, who swiped 56 bases and scored 72 runs for the Reds.

 

Walter Johnson Award (top pitcher)

 

American League 

BBRT vote: Phil Hughes

Contenders: 2. Corey Kluber     3. Felix Hernandez

I expect to get some flack here, but my first-place goes to Twins’ righty Phil Hughes Why?  First, Hughes won 16 games for a team that went 70-92. Only three players in the AL won more games than Hughes (they each had 18 victories), and all three (Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Jered Weaver) pitched for teams with winning records.  Hughes, who went 16-10, 3.52, also set a new MLB record for strikeouts to walks ratio (11.63) and recorded the fewest walks ever for any hurler to reach 200 innings pitched in a season.  In 209 2/3 innings, Hughes fanned 186, while walking just 16.

The smart money goes on one of BBRT’s contenders – Indians’ righty Corey Kluber (18-9, 2.44).  Kluber was a strikeout machine, finishing with 269 K’s in 235 2/3 innings (just two strikeouts behind AL leader David Price). He also finished among the leaders in ERA (third), complete games (second, tie) and innings pitched (third).  Just behind Kluber, in BBRT’s estimation, was Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, the AL ERA leader at 2.14 (to go with a 15-6 won-lost record and 248 strikeouts in 236 innings pitched).

 

National League

BBRT vote: Clayton Kershaw (duh)

(Distant)  Contenders: 2 (tie). Adam Wainwright     2 (tie). Johnny Cueto

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BBRT’s NL Walter Johnson Award vote goes (of course) to Dodgers’ southpaw Clayton Kershaw.  Not much explanation needed here.  Kershaw missed a month of starts and still led the NL in wins (21 against just 3 losses), ERA (1.77 – his fourth consecutive ERA title) and complete games (6), while also finishing third in strikeouts (239 in 198 1/3 innings).

BBRT sees a runner-up tie between the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and the Reds’ Johnny Cueto.  These two right-handed starters tied for second in wins (both at 20-9), finished two and three (behind Kershaw) in the NL in ERA and complete games, as well as one and two in the NL in innings pitched. In addition, Cueto tied the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg for the NL strikeout title (242), while Wainwright tied for the league lead in shutouts (three).

 

The Stan Musial Award (top player)

Note: In past award announcements, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has referred to this award as recognizing the top or “premier” player in each league (as opposed to the Most Valuable Player). Makes this vote easier and less controversial.

 

American League

BBRT vote: Mike Trout

Contenders: 2. Jose Altuve     3. Miguel Cabrera

Mike TroutBBRT’s vote for the Stan Musial Award in the AL goes to the Angels’ Mike Trout. Pretty simple. How can you not vote for the player who led the league in runs scored AND runs batted in, while also flashing Gold Glove defensive skills.  Trout, who hit .287, finished in the top five in the AL in runs scored (115, first), RBI (111, first), home runs (36, third), slugging percentage (.561, third), walks (83, fourth) and triples (nine, third). He also added 16 steals in 18 tries. The only concern?  Trout also led the AL in strikeouts with 184.

Running behind Trout in BBRT’s considerations were: the Houston Astros’ five-foot-six second baseman Jose Altuve – like Trout a “plus” fielder, Altuve also was the spark at the top of the Astros’ lineup, leading all of MLB in batting average (.341) and base hits (225), wile also topping the AL in stolen bases; and Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera, with another solid season (.313, average, 25 home runs, 101 runs scored, 109 runs batted in).

 

National League

BBRT vote: Andrew McCutchen

Contender: 2. Giancarlo Stanton

With no one player dominating the statistics, the call on the NL’s premier player is a tough one.  BBRT  casts its vote for Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen (making my Stan Musial Award selections a center field sweep). Like Trout, Mccutchen takes Gold Glove skills into the outfield.  He also combines speed and power, finishing 2014 (146 games) with a .314 average, 25 home runs, 83 RBI and 18 steals (in 21 attempts). McCutchen also led the NL in on base percentage at .410.

Finishing just behind McCutchen is Marlins’right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the NL leader in home runs (37), slugging percentage (.555) and total bases (299). Stanton, who hit .288, also drove in 105 runs (second in the NL) and had the second-best on-base percentage in the league (.395).

 

Goose Gossage Award (top reliever)

 

American League

BBRT Vote: Greg Holland

Contender: 2. Fernando Rodney

BBRT’s vote for the AL Goose Gossage Award goes to the Royals’ Greg Holland, who went 1-3, with 46 saves, a 1.44 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched.

Right behind Holland is the Mariners’ Fernando Rodney, who tallied an MLB-leading 48 saves. Despite the leadership in saves, Rodney was less dominating then Holland, going 1-6, 2.85 with 76 whiffs in 66 1/3 innings.

 

National League

BBRT vote: Craig Kimbrel

Contenders: 2. Kanley Jansen     3. Aroldis Chapman

craig kimbrelIn the NL, BBRT likes Braves’ closer, right-hander Craig Kimbrel, for the Goose Gossage Award. Kimbrel, who led the NL in saves for the fourth-consecutive year,  finished 0-3, 1.61 with 47 saves and 95 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.  Over the past four seasons, Kimbrel has averaged just over 46 saves per year.

Based on strikeouts, walks and earned run average (always leery of closers with ERA’s over 3.00), others who merited BBRT’s consideration were: the Dodgers’ Kanley Jansen (2-3, 2.76, 44 saves, 101 strikeouts and 19 walks in 65 1/3 innings); and Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman (0-3, 2.00, 36 saves, 106 strikeouts and 24 walks in 54 innings).   There is one more “vote”… an honorable mention, actually … for Colorado closer LaTroy Hawkins, just for the fact that he is still getting the job done (4-3, 3.31, 23 saves in 26 opportunities) at age 41.

 

Connie Mack Award (top manager)

 

American League

BBRT vote:  Buck Showwalter

Contender:  2. Ned Yost

New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles April 23,  2011BBRT sees the AL’s top manager as the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, who brought the Orioles home with a 12-game lead over the second-place Yankees.  Not only were the Orioles not found on too many analysts’ pre-season East Division champion predictions, Showalter had to manage around injuries to key players (Matt Weiters and Manny Machado), as well the sub-par season and later suspension for 2013 star Chris Davis.

BBRT also gave serious consideration to Ned Yost, who brought the Royals back to the post-season after a 29-year absence – despite being the only team in baseball with less than 100 home runs on the season. The Royals won under Yost with defense and speed (the fewest home runs, but the most stolen bases) – a formula that puts additional pressure on the manager (manufacturing runs with singles, steals, the hit-and-run).

 

National League

BBRT vote: Bruce Bochy

Contender:  2. Matt Williams

BBRT’s vote for NL Connie Mack Award goes to Bruce Bochy of the Giants, who led the squad to an 88-74 record (and Wild Card spot), despite the difficulties facing Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and injuries to Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan.  Counting on youngsters like Joe Panik and Andrew Susac, Bochy kept a winning attitude on the San Francisco team.

Just behind Bochy is Matt Williams of the Nationals, who won 96 games and finished a whopping 17 games ahead of their nemesis (the Braves).  Like Bochy, Williams managed through significant loss of time to injuries (catcher Wilson Ramos, outfielder/face-of-the franchise Bryce Harper and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman).

Keep watching BBRT for the final results of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance balloting.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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BBRT September Wrap – Post-Season Predictions

September’s regular season games are on the books, the races are over and the post season lies ahead.  That means it’s time for BBRT monthly and season-ending wrap up. (You’ll also find BBRT’s post-season predictions along the way.)

 

MVP candidate Mike Trout helped Angels to MLB's best 2014 record.

MVP candidate Mike Trout helped Angels to MLB’s best 2014 record.

Most the MLB playoff teams showed their mettle in September. In the AL, the teams with the top-four September records (Orioles, Tigers, Royals and Angels) were all playoff bound.  The only exception was the A’s, who held on to a Wild Card spot despite September’s AL-worst record. In the NL, the story was much the same, the top-four September records went to the Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers – all headed to the post season.  The Giants, who complete the NL post-season lineup, finished September at 13-12.  Clearly, the teams that make up this year’s slate of post-season contenders are nearly all entering the playoffs with positive momentum.

Here are your playoff teams and a look at September performance (full results with won-lost records for the season and month are listed are the end of this post).

American League

Division Champions: Orioles, Tigers, Angels.  The Orioles continued to roll, putting up the AL’s best September record (17-10, .630 – following a 19-9 August and a 17-8 July), winning the AL East by 12 games. The Tigers won the Central Division title, finishing September with the AL’s second-best record (16-10, .615), topping the Royals by one game in the standings. The Royals tied the AL West champion Angels for the AL’s third-best September record at 15-11, .577.

Wild Cards: Royals, A’s.  The Royals made the playoffs and challenged for the AL Central title, finishing strong by playing .577 ball in September (after sharing August’s MLB-best record with the Orioles at 19-9). The A’s limped into the post-season – capturing the second AL Wild Card spot on the final day of the season, despite an AL- worst record for September (10-16, .385).

National League

Division Champions: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers. The Nationals had MLB’s best record in September (19-8, .704), lengthening their lead to 17 games over the second-place Braves (who went a dismal 7-18, .280) for the month, dropping to 79-83 and a second-place tie with the Mets. The Cardinals took the Central title with a 17-9, .654 month (tied with the Pirates for the third-best September in the NL). The strong finishes for St. Louis and Pittsburgh, coupled with a late-season slump by the Brewers (9-17 in September), pushed Milwaukee (which led the division most of the season) out of the post-season picture. The Dodgers finished strong, with the NL’s second-best record at 17-8, .680.  Arizona had MLB’s worst record for September (7-19, .269) and for the season (64-98, .395).

Wild Cards: Giants, Pirates. The Giants finished September 13-12 and took the final NL Wild Card spot.

The Early and Late of It

On September 15th, the Angels became the first team to clinch a 2014 play-off spot topping Seattle 8-1.  The win gave the Angels a 94-68, .627 record – one of only two MLB teams playing .600 ball through September 15 (the other was the Baltimore Orioles at 90-60, .600).  The following day, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles became the first teams to clinch 2014 division titles (the Angels clinched at least a wild card berth the day before, but did not wrap up the AL West title until September 17).

The last team to clinch a post-season berth was the Oakland A’s, who didn’t wrap up their spot until their last game of the season, beating the Rangers 4-0 to keep their one-game lead over the Mariners (who also won, beating the Angels 4-1).

 

Despite a combination pf ppwer arms and power bats, The Tigers were the last team to clinch their division.

Despite a combination of power arms and power bats, The Tigers were the last team to clinch their division.

The last team to clinch their division was the Tigers. On the final day of the season, the Tigers topped the Twins 3-0, to maintain a one-game lead over the Royals, who beat the White Sox 6-4.   The NL Central was nearly as close, with the Cardinals going into the final day with a one-game edge over the Pirates.  The Pirates’ loss was on the books, assuring St. Louis the title, before the Redbirds shut out the Diamondbacks 1-0 to take the Division by two games.

On the Road Again

The Dodger finished with MLB’s best road record at 49-32, followed by the AL’s Royals (47-34.) The Orioles, Angels and Mariners round out the top five road teams, with 46 road wins each.

The Angels ran up the best home record at 52-29, followed by the Nationals, Cardinals and Pirates at 51-30. The Orioles were the only other team with 50 home wins (50-31).

Twenty-one of MLB’s 30 teams had winning records at home (nine in the AL, 12 in the NL); while ten teams had winning road records (seven in the AL, three in the NL).

Uniquely, every team in the NL Central had a winning home record and played below .500 on the road.

Season and September Batting Leaders

Five-foot-six Jose Altuve had MLB's loftiest batting average.

Five-foot-six Jose Altuve had MLB’s loftiest batting average.

Number one on the hit parade this season was Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve, whose 225 hits and .341 average led all of MLB. Over in the NL, Rockies’ 1B Justin Morneau captured the batting crown at .319 (the second ex-Twin in the past two seasons to win the NL title after moving to the Rockies).  The September batting leaders (minimum 50 plate appearances) were Dodgers’ LF Carl Crawford in the NL at .448, 30-for-67) and Indians’ LF Michael Brantley in the AL at .416 (42-for-101). They were the only two hitters to best .400 for the month.

Baltimore DH Nelson Cruz was the only MLB hitter to reach 40 home runs, topping the AL. Over in the senior circuit, Marlins’ RF Giancarlo Stanton (despite missing considerable time) was the league leader with 37 dingers. September’s HR leaders, for the most part, helped propel their teams to the play offs.  Leading all hitters was Dodgers’ LF Matt Kemp with nine September round trippers. Following up with eight were Dodgers’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Tigers’ 1B Miguel Cabrera and Yankees’ C Brian McCann.

The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez was the NL RBI leader for the season at 116 – and also tied teammate Matt Kemp for the highest September total at 25.  In the AL, Angels’ CF Mike Trout led with 111 RBI on the season, with teammate 1B Albert Pujols topping the AL for September with 22 runs driven in.

In the speed department, Dodgers’ 2B Dee Gordon led the NL with 64 swipes (19 caught stealing); while Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve topped the AL with 56 steals in 65 attempts. Two players (one in each league) reached nine steals in September: Phillies’ CF Ben Revere (9-for-12) and Rangers’ CF Leonys Martin (9-for-11).

Pitching Leaders Season and September

Clayton Kershaw - most wins, lowest ERA - missed a month.

Clayton Kershaw – most wins, lowest ERA – missed a month.

Despite missing about a month of the season, Dodgers’ left Clayton Kershaw led all of MLB in victories at 21 (versus 3 losses) and ERA 1.77 (becoming the first pitcher to lead his league in ERA four consecutive years). There were two other 20-game winners, both in the NL, both right-handers and both at 20-9:  the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and Reds’ Johnny Cueto   Wainwright and Kershaw shared the NL (and MLB) lead in September wins, both running up five wins against no losses. The NL ERA leader for September (at least 20 innings pitched) was Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrietta, with a 0.95 ERA in four starts.  He was the only MLBer with an ERA under 1.00 for the month.

There was a three-way tie (all right-handers) for most wins in the AL: the Tigers’ Max Scherzer (18-5); Angels’  Jered Weaver (18-9); and Indians’ Corey Kluber (18-9). Seattle righty Felix Hernandez captured the AL ERA crown at 2.14, edging White Sox southpaw Chris Sale (2.17).  For September, Kluber was the only Al pitcher to reach five wins (versus one loss), while the ERA leader for the month was Rangers’ left-hander Derek Holland at 1.46.

Tigers (and Rays) left-hander David Price led MLB in strikeouts with 271 in 248 1/3 innings, holding of the Indians’ Corey Kluber (269 Ks in 235 2/3 innings).  There was a tie for the strikeout crown in the NL, with right-handers Johnny Cueto of the Reds (243 2/3 innings) and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals (215 innings) each reaching 242 K’s.  Kershaw, with seven fewer starts than the two leaders, fanned 239 (198 1/3 innings).

The Mariners’ Fernando Rodney led all closers with 48 saves (three blown saves), while Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel led the NL with 47 saves (four blown saves). The runners-up in each league came from post-season qualifiers: the Royals Greg Holland (46 saves, two blown saves) and the Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal (45 saves, six blown saves). The Nationals’ Drew Storen was the only closer to reach 10 saves for the month of September (two blown saves), while Seattle’s Fernando Rodney topped the AL with nine September saves (no blown saves).

The Other Side of Leadership

No hitter struck out more times than Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard this season (190 K’s in 569 at bats) – to go with a .223-23-95 line. The AL strikeout leader might surprise you – Angels’ star CF Mike Trout (184 K’s in 602 at bats). Even with all those whiffs, Trout hit .287, scored 115 runs, drove in 111, hit 36 homers, swiped 16 bases and is considered an MVP candidate. The September strikeout leader was Cubs’ 2B Javier Baez, who hit .149 for the final month, fanning 46 times in 101 at bats. Again, the AL leader in K’s for September might come as a surprise:  Tigers’ outfielder J.D. Martinez, who fanned 34 times in 96 at bats, but still managed a .354 average for the month.

Nobody walked more hitters than Phillies’ righty A.J. Burnett (96 walks in 213 2/3 IP – but also 190 K’s). The AL leader in free passes was the Angels’ lefty C.J. Wilson (85 walks in 175 2/3 IP). Notably, the two hurlers had similar ERA’s (4.59 for Burnett, 4.51 for Wilson), but Burnett ended the season 8-18, while Wilson won 13 and lost 10.  Burnett’s 18 losses led all of MLB, while the AL loss leader was Rangers’ righty Colby Lewis 10-14,  Eight hurlers lost four games in September, with three teams having two four-game losers: Atlanta’s Mike Minor and Julio Teheran; San Francisco’s Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong; Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo and Jimmy Nelson; Detroit’s Rick Porcello; Miami’s Nathan Eovaldi.

 

Before we look at a few September “tid bits” BBRT found interesting – here’s my post-season predictions.

 

AL Wild Card play-in.  A’s  reverse their September course behind Lester and knock off the Royals.

ALDS:  Angels too strong for A’s.   Tigers edge Orioles.

ALCS: Detroit starting pitching the difference as Tigers move on to World Series.

 

NL Wild Card play-in: Giants over Pirates.

NLDS: Nationals too much for Giants.  Dodgers’ pitching shuts down Cardinals’ offense.

NLCS:  Kershaw/Grienke the difference as Dodgers go to World Series.

 

World Series:  Tigers in seven, good pitching both sides. LA pitches around Miguel Cabrera, but Victor and J.D. Martinez light up Tiger offense.  

 

 A Few September Tid Bits

 Where Have All the Starters Gone?

Jordan Zimmerman put an exclamation point on the Nationals NL-East leading 2014 season, tossing a no-hitter on the season’s final day.  Zimmerman walked just one and struck out ten in the 1-0 victory over the Marlins. The no-hitter was saved by a spectacular leaping catch (with two out in the ninth) by Nats’ LF Steven Souza, Jr., who had come into the game as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman. In fact, all seven Nationals’ fair-territory fielders when the game ended were defensive replacements – only Zimmerman and catcher Wilson Ramos remained in place from the original lineup. ELIAS indicated this is the first time that has happened in an MLB no-no.

Here are a few other tid bits about the no-hitter:  It was the fifth no-hitter thrown on the final day of an MLB season; the fifth no-hitter of the 2014 season (all in the NL); and the fifth no-hitter in the history of the Expos/Nationals.

Under Control

One September 24, Twins’ hurler Phil Hughes beat the Arizona Diamondback 2-1 in Minneapolis – giving up one run on five hits in eight innings pitched. It gave Hughes a 16-10 record and 3.52 ERA for a Twins team that ended the season 70-92.  In his final start of the 2014 campaign, Hughes did not walk a batter, while striking out five – and that proved significant.  On the season, Hughes pitched 209 2/3 innings (more on that later), striking out 186 versus only 16 walks.  That gave Hughes a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11.63 on the year – the highest single-season strikeout-to-walk ratio (among pitchers with qualifying innings) in MLB history. Bret Saberhagen had the previous record at 11.00 in 1994. That 209 2/3 innings pitched is also significant.  Hughes needed to log 210 innings to earn a $500,000 bonus (he had already earned bonuses at two previous IP levels, but left the game 1/3 inning short of the next bonus level following a one-hour- plus rain delay).  The Twins did offer Hughes a chance to pitch in relief in the final days of the season, but he declined, indicating it was more important to protect his health for 2015.  And, no whining, either.  Class act!

A Walk-Off Walk-Off

Derek Jeter - had to inclede a picture of the captain.

Derek Jeter – had to inclede a picture of the captain.

One September 25, Derek Jeter played his last game in Yankee Stadium – and he put a typical Jeter touch on his final at bat there – hitting a game-winning, walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth (giving New York a 6-5 win).

Eight Straight and Then the Pitcher

On September 15, New York Mets’ rookie Jacob deGrom got off to a blazing start – striking out the first eight Miami Marlins he faced and tying the MLB modern-day record for strikeouts to start a game.  Ironically, the string of whiffs was broken on a base hit by the opposing pitcher Jarred Cosart – just another reason I don’t like the DH.  DeGrom went seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while striking out one and fanning thirteen.

For the Tie and the Win

On September 8, the Chicago White Sox were down to their last strike, trailing the Oakland A’s 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a 2-2 count on C Tyler Flowers.  Flowers, however, delivered a home run down the left field line, sending the game into extra innings.  Flowers was not done yet. In his next at bat, in the bottom of the twelfth inning, he hit the first pitch to him from reliever Jesse Chavez for a walk-off, game-winning round tripper.

The Hit (By Pitch) Parade

On September 12, Marlins’ right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was leading the NL in home runs (37) and RBI (105), when he came to the plate in the top of the fifth inning (facing Brewers’ right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers) with two outs and runners on the corners.  On an 0-1 count, Fiers threw an 88- mile-per-hour fastball that ran up and in as Stanton turned toward the pitch.  The pitch struck Stanton below the left eye, resulting in a bloody laceration, multiple fractures and dental damage.

First-base umpire D.J. Reyburn ruled that Stanton was swinging at the pitch, so – after Stanton was carried from the field  – pinch hitter Reed Johnson came to the plate with an 0-2 count.  That’s when things got even more intense – and strange.  Fiers first pitch to Johnson hit him on the right hand and the umpires again ruled that the hitter (Johnson) was swinging – resulting in a strikeout (logged against Stanton’s record).  The benches cleared, warnings were issued and a couple of ejections (Marlins’ Manager Mike Redmond and 3B Casey McGehee) ensued.  Meanwhile, what looked on the surface like a pair of hit batsman went into the record books as a strikeout for Fiers.

In the sixth inning, tempers remained hot and Marlins’ acting manager Rob Leary and pitcher Anthony DeSclafini were ejected after DeSclafani hit the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez with a pitch (left elbow).

September 12 turned out to be a pretty “wild” day on the mound and in the batters’ box across major league baseball – with 15 hit batsmen in 11 games (and, remember, Stanton and Johnson did not go in the books as “hit by pitch”). Here’s a little wrap up of the HBPs for the day:

  • Carlos Gomez hit by Anthony Desclafini after the Stanton injury.
  • The Mets’ Bartolo Colon hit the Nationals’ Ian Desmond (the first batter after Colon gave up a first-inning home run to Adam LaRoche. Then, in the fourth inning, Colon hit Jayson Werth with a pitch after giving up a home run to Anthony Rendon.  (Colon and Mets’ manager Terry Collins were ejected.) In the eighth inning, the Nationals’ Matt Thornton hit the Mets’ Daniel Murphy.
  • The Rangers’ Nick Martinez hit Mike Trout with pitches in the third and fifth innings of   the Angels 7-3 win in Texas. Angels’ reliever Joe Smith hit the Rangers’ Tomas Telis with a pitch to lead off the  bottom of the ninth, resulting in a warning to both benches.
  • The Royals’ Liam Hendriks hit the Red Sox’ Yoenis Cespedes in the top of third inning of Boston’s 6-3 win. The Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz hit Royals’ outfielder Josh Willingham in the back leading off the sixth inning of the same game.
  • The Rays’ Brad Boxberger hit the Yankees’ Derek Jeter on the elbow in the eighth inning of the Rays’ 5-4 loss to NY. In the ninth, the Rays’ Jake McGee hit Yankee 3B Chase Headley.
  • The Indians’ T.J. House hit the Twins’ 2B Brian Dozier in the top of the sixth inning of the Indians’ 2-0 win in the second game of a double header.
  • The Reds’ Johnny Cueto plunked the Cardinals’ Jon Jay in the top of the first in the Reds’ 1-0 home win.
  • The Giants’ Javier Lopez hit the Diamondbacks’ Cliff Pennington in the top of the eighth, as SF topped Arizona 6-2.
  • The Phillies’ A.J. Burnett hit the Pirates’ Stirling Marte in the second inning of the Pirates 4-1 victory.

 Thanks, Dad

On September 14, Giants’ manager (and former major league catcher) Bruce Bochy became the first manager to call in his own son from the bullpen.  It came in the sixth inning, and Bochy showed no favoritism to his son Brett – bringing him in for his major league debut with the bases loaded.  Brett, who ran up a record of 14-8,with a 3.03 ERA in four minor league seasons, walked in a run before logging the final out of the inning, and then allowed a two-run home run to Scott Van Slyke (also the son of a former major leaguer – Andy Van Slyke) in the seventh.  The first-place Dodgers trounced Bochy’s second-place Giants 17-0.

Whiff City

The Cleveland Indians’ pitching staff missed a lot of bats this season, fanning an MLB record 1,450 hitters– helping MLB pitchers set a season strikeout record of 37,441.

Hmm?

The Saint Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff led all of baseball with 23 shutouts in 2014 – yet their league-leading complete game total was just eight. Tampa Bay which had an AL leading 22 shutouts, had only three complete games.  #HowTheGameHasChanged

Some other team leaders.

Batting Average: AL – Tigers .277          NL – Rockies .276

Runs Scored:  AL – Angels 773            NL Rockies 755

HRs: AL – Orioles 211            NL – Rockies 186

Stolen Bases: AL – Royals 153             NL – Dodgers 138

ERA: AL – Mariners 3.17            NL – Nationals 3.03

 

 Final Standings and September Records

 

TEAM                W        L          PCT     GB       (Sept/)

AL East

Baltimore          96        66        .593                 (17-10)

NY Yankees      84        78        .519     12.0     (14-13)

Toronto              83        79        .512     13.0     (14-12)

Tampa Bay       77        85        .475     19.0     (11-14)

Boston               71        91        .438     25.0     (11-15)

AL Central

Detroit              90        72         .556                (16-10)

Kansas City      89        73        .549     1.0       (15-11)

Cleveland         85        77        .525     5.0       (14-13)

Chicago WS     73        89        .451     17.0     (11-14)

Minnesota        70        92        .432     20.0     (11-14)

AL West

LA Angels        98        64        .605                 (15-11)

Oakland           88        74        .543     10.0     (10-16)

Seattle              87        75        .537     11.0     (14-13)

Houston           70        92        .432     28.0     (11-13)

Texas               67        95        .414     31.0     (14-12)

 

NL East

Washington      96        66        .593                 (19-9)

Atlanta             79        83        .488     17.0     (7-18)

NY Mets          79       83        .488      17.0     (15-10)

Miami               77        85        .475     19.0     (11-16)

Philadelphia     73        89        .451     23.0     (11-15)

NL Central

St. Louis           90        72        .556                 (17-9)

Pittsburgh        88        74        .543      2.0       (17-9)

Milwaukee         82        80        .506     8.0       (9-17)

Cincinnati          76        86        .469     14.0     (10-15)

Chicago Cubs    73        89        .451     17.0     (12-13)

NL West

LA Dodgers      94        68        .580                 (17-8)

San Francisco  88        74        .543      6.0     (13-12)

San Diego        77        85        .475      17.0      (13-14)

Colorado          66        96        .407      28.0     (12-13)

Arizona            64        98        .395      30.0     (7-19)

 

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Ed Reulbach Day – How the Game has Changed

On this date (September 26) in 1908, Chicago Cubs’ right-handed hurler Ed Reulbach did something that is (and, undoubtedly will remain) unique in MLB history.  On that date, Reulbach (known for his high-kicking delivery and sharp-breaking curveball) started both games of a double header (versus Brooklyn) for the Cubs.  And, starting both games of a double header is not what’s unique – it’s been done more often than you’d think and as recently as 1973.  There’s also been an instance of both teams starting the same pitcher in both games of a double bill and a major league hurler who started both ends of a double header three times in one month.  More on all of that later, let’s get back to Ed Reulbach. It is, after all, his day.

Reulbach won both games of that September 26, 1908 doubleheader and – as was expected at the time – went the distance in both contests.  But that still is not what makes Reulbach’s afternoon of work unique.  In MLB history, 35 different pitchers have accounted for two complete game victories in one day a total of 40 times.  Note: If you count only instances in which both games went at least nine innings, the total drops to 34 pitchers and 30 occasions.

Ed Reulbach - two shutouts in one day.

Ed Reulbach – two shutouts in one day.

What makes Reulbach’s accomplishment unique is that he is the only MLB pitcher to throw two complete game SHUTOUTS on the same day. The Cubs were involved in a heated pennant race and the pitching staff was reportedly growing arm weary.  So, Cubs’ player-manager Frank Chance called on Reulbach to toe the rubber in both ends of a double header against the Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers). Reulbach responded by shutting down the Brooklyn squad 5-0 in game one and 3-0 in game two – giving up just eight hits in 18 innings on the day.  The extra work didn’t seem to bother the right-hander, as he came back after four days rest to shut out the Reds in his next start.  Just how critical were Reulbach’s two September 26 wins? The Cubs won the 1908 pennant with a 99-55 record – one game ahead of both the Pirates and the Giants.

Reulbach’s accomplishment should not have been a surprise.  “Big Ed” was on the way to a 24-7, 2.03 season in which he would lead the NL in winning percentage for the third consecutive year.  Reulbach’s final major league tally, over 13 seasons, was 182 wins, 106 losses and a 2.28 ERA. His MLB accomplishments also include a 17-game winning streak, a 44-inning scoreless streak and a World Series one-hitter (1906).

Now, a few other facts about pitchers who started both ends of a double bill.

Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood was the last pitcher to start both ends of a twin bill – although (unlike with Reulbach) that was not the original plan. On July 20, 1973, Wood started the first game of a double header for the White Sox (against the Yankees).  He got off to a good start, whiffing Yankee lead-off hitter 2B Horace Clarke on a wicked knuckler. Unfortunately, the pitch also fooled catcher Ed Hermann and Clarke reached first on a passed ball – which proved the highlight of Wood’s game.  In order, he followed up with: a walk to RF Matty Alou; a two-run double to LF Ron White; a run-scoring single to CF Bobby Murcer; an RBI single to catcher Thurmon Munson; a run-scoring single to 3B Graig Nettles; and an early exit in an eventual 12-2 loss. Given Wood’s short stint on the mound (reported at less than 30 pitches) and the lack of stress placed on a knuckleballer’s arm, Sox manager Chuck Tanner sent Wood back to the mound to start game two. The results were marginally better.  Wood lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and five runs, earning his second loss of the day as the Yankees triumphed 7-0.  Workhorse Wood, by the way, ended the 1973 season with 24 wins and 20 losses, the last American Leaguer to win and lose 20 games in the same season (Phil Niekro did it in the NL in 1979).

Joe McGinnity started, and completed, both end of a double header three times in a single  month- and won all six games.

Joe McGinnity started, and completed, both end of a double header three times in a single month- and won all six games.

Then there is Joe McGinnity, who started both ends of a double header a record five times in his career, and three times in a single month.  Notably, in August 1903, McGinnity not only started both ends of a double header three times, he also won all six games and completed all six.

Pitching for the New York Giants, on August 1, 1903, McGinnity won the first game of a double header against the Braves 4-1 and came back to win the second game 5-2. Just a week later (August 8), he repeated the feat, beating Brooklyn by scores of 6-1 and 4-3. Then on August 31, he topped the Phillies 4-1 and 9-2.  McGinnity finished the season 31-20, 2.43 and recorded 246 wins, 142 losses and a 2.66 ERA in ten MLB seasons, during which he led the NL in wins five times.

Then there is Bob Newsom, who started both ends of a double header four times (1934, 1937, 1938, 1945) for three different teams (Browns, Red Sox, Athletics) in his 20-year MLB career. (Newsom went 211-222, 3.98 for nine teams from 1929-53. He was a four-time All Star and a three-time 20-game winner, as well as a three-time twenty-game loser.)

The Newsom double-header/double-start that attracted my attention came on September 14, 1934 – mostly for the total between-game turnaround by Newsom.  Pitching for the St. Louis Browns, Newsom started the first game of a double header against the Athletics – and walked the first four hitters before being pulled.  Brooklyn Manager Rogers Hornsby (for some reason) sent Newsom back out to start game two.  This time, he totally reversed his fortunes, striking out the first four hitters and picking up a complete game 5-2 win.  Newsom’s other instances of starting both ends of a double header were more traditional – and resulted in two wins and three losses.

When the Braves and Phillies faced off in a double header on August 12, 1921, they collaborated to make MLB history – with both teams sending the same starting pitcher to the mound in both games for the only time ever.  George Smith was the Phillies’ double-starter, while Jack Scott did the same for the Braves. Scott was the losing hurler in both games, while Smith tossed a 12-hit shutout to win game two.  (Both pitchers were knocked out of game one by the third inning, Scott taking the loss, Smith getting a no-decision.) Smith, by the way, was on course for a 4-20, 4.76 season, while Scott would finish the year 15-13, 3.70.  Both hurlers had career records under .500.

To end, here are a few other hurlers who started both ends of a doubleheader: Cy Young, Old Hoss Radbourn, Grover Alexander, Babe Ruth, Don Newcombe, and Rube Waddell – as well as Hippo Vaughn, Mule Watson and Happy Finneran.

 

With that, let me just say – Happy Ed Reulbach Day.

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“Courtesy” Runners, Fielders and Hitters – How the Game Has Changed

Those BBRT readers who play softball – particularly if you play in a senior (over-60) league like I do – are pretty familiar with the concept of a “courtesy” runner, fielder or even hitter.  You may not be aware, however, that it wasn’t so long ago (well, at least it was in my lifetime) that courtesy players were allowed in the major leagues.  The last “legal” courtesy player (more on that distinction later) was deployed in 1949.  Following that season, MLB instituted rule 3.04:

“A player whose name is on his team’s batting order may not become a substitute runner for another member of his team.  

Rule 3.04 Comment: This rule is intended to eliminate the practice of using so-called courtesy runners. No player in the game shall be permitted to act as a courtesy runner for a teammate. No player who has been in the game and has been taken out for a substitute shall return as a courtesy runner. Any player not in the lineup, if used as a runner, shall be considered as a substitute player.”

In this post, BBRT would like to take a look at a few instances involving courtesy players – as well as circumstances surrounding those situations how they reflect changes in the way the national pastime is played.

Jim Hegan - last legal courtesy player.

Jim Hegan – last legal courtesy player.

The last legal use of a courtesy player came on July 2, 1949.  With one out, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Saint Louis Browns (there’s a change right there) were leading the Cleveland Indians 4-0, when Indians’ SS Ray Boone was hit by a pitch and unable to continue. Indians’ manager Lou Boudreau (who also started the game at 3B for the Tribe – a player-manager, there’s another change) brought in Jim Hegan (who had started the game – and was still in – at catcher) as a courtesy runner for Boone. Boudreau needed the permission of Browns’ manager Zach Taylor to make the switch, which is why the slow-footed Hegan was used.  Note: Given the need for approval from the opposing manager, courtesy players – particularly runners – were often chosen from among the less fleet-footed players available.  Hegan scored on a sacrifice fly as the Indians closed the gap to 4-2. Since the courtesy substitution came in the bottom of the ninth, neither Hegan nor Boone returned to their position.  Note: Most instances (more than half) of courtesy players, particularly runners, have followed a hit by pitch – although base running injuries (spikings, sprains, collisions) and to a lesser extent equipment changes (damaged shoes) have also contributed.

The previous use of a courtesy player (July 2, 1949) also involved Boudreau’s Indians and, while it is less significant (not being the last legal use), it does serve to illustrate more about how the game has changed. Instead of the ninth inning, this switch came in the first.  This time, the Indians were playing the Red Sox in Boston.  Sox starter Joe Dobson got into trouble quickly: single by SS Ray Boone; walk to LF Allie Clark; double by 3B Ken Keltner (bringing home Boone); intentional walk to CF Larry Doby (loading the bases); Grand Slam by 2B Joe Gordon.  The next batter (here’s another of those changes), as was the often and accepted practice following a home run, was hit by a pitch.  That hitter was player-manager Lou Boudreau (starting at 1B that day).  Keltner, who had batted earlier in the inning, came in as a courtesy runner for Boudreau and scored (here’s another change, at least for AL fans) on a hit by Indians’ starting pitcher Bob Feller.  When the Indians took the field in the bottom of the inning Keltner was at third base and Boudreau back at first.

These two examples represent the final two “legal” uses of courtesy players.  On August 10, 1952, Pittsburgh fans witnessed the illegal use of a courtesy fielder.  It came in game two of a double header against the visiting Cubs.  In the top of the ninth of a 4-3 game (Cubs leading), Pirates’ catcher Clyde McCullough was injured.  The Pirates, however, had used their two remaining catchers as pinch hitters – Ed Fitz Gerald in the sixth inning and Joe Garagiola in the eighth. Cubs’ manager Phil Caverretta (a player-manager, by the way) agreed to let Pirates’ skipper Billy Meyer bring Fitz Gerald in to catch. The umpires mistakenly allowed the switch, which was was no longer legal under rule 3.04.

heffnerCourtesy fielders are much less common than courtesy runners in MLB history. The last documented legal courtesy fielder came into play on July 24, 1934.  It happened in the bottom of first inning in a game between the Bronx Bombers and the Saint Louis Browns.  Yankees’ 2B Tony Lazzeri got something in his eye and had to leave the field to have it attended to.  Don Heffner came off the bench to replace Lazzeri and finish the inning at second base.  Lazzeri’s spot in the batting order came up in the top of the second and he took his turn at the plate and then returned to second base in the bottom of the inning.

Even rarer are courtesy batters.  The only documented occasion being on July 12, 1915 in a game between the Senators and White Sox (in Chicago). With one out in the top of the third and the White Sox up 3-2, Senators’ 1B Chick Gandil wrenched his knee swinging at a pitch and could not continue the at bat.  Sox manager Pants Rowland (don’t hear nicknames like that anymore) agreed to let Senators’ manager Clark Griffith bring in Rip Williams to finish the plate appearance (Williams grounded out).  Gandil’s knee was popped back into place in the dugout and he took his position at first base in the bottom of the inning – finishing the game one-for-three, with a double, run scored and RBI.

Note:  The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.  Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at www.retrosheet.org

 

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Baseball Reliquary and Whittier College Join to Establish “Institute for Baseball Studies”

The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary, Inc. recently announced that the organization has entered into an agreement with Whittier College administrators and faculty members to create the Institute for Baseball Studies, the first humanities-based research center of its kind associated with a college or university in the United States.

The Institute will be located on the third floor of the Mendenhall Building, Whittier College’s central administration facility (13406 E. Philadelphia St., Room 310B, Whittier, CA 90608).  The Baseball Reliquary is a Pasadena-based nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the prism of baseball history and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities.  It is currently projected that the Institute for Baseball Studies will open in the fall of 2014.  An announcement regarding a grand opening celebration will be forthcoming. For more on the Baseball Reliquary click here.

Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary and Joe Price, Whitter College Genevieve S. Connick Professor of Religious Studies.

Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary and Joe Price, Whitter College Genevieve S. Connick Professor of Religious Studies.

The Baseball Reliquary’s research collection will form the centerpiece of the Institute for Baseball Studies, which has been established to foster an intellectual community for creating and supporting interdisciplinary research and studies related to the cultural significance of baseball in American history.  Joseph L. Price, Genevieve S. Connick Professor of Religious Studies at Whittier College, and Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary, will serve as co-Directors of the Institute for Baseball Studies.  Charles Adams, Professor of English at Whittier College, and Mike McBride, Professor of Political Science at Whittier College, will serve as Associate Directors.  An Advisory Board will soon be announced.

The Baseball Reliquary’s research collection includes books and periodicals, the papers of distinguished baseball historians and journalists, and a variety of materials that will support multifaceted and interdisciplinary studies at Whittier College, and will prompt the exchange of ideas, the development of research initiatives, and the creation of public symposia and programs highlighting baseball’s significance in American culture.  To supplement this collection of research materials, Whittier College professors Adams, McBride, and Price will be donating their archive of nearly 1000 baseball books to create an impressive resource for baseball studies.  The Institute for Baseball Studies will be accessible to students, scholars, and the general public.

In addition to books, photographs, and paper ephemera, the Institute for Baseball Studies will serve as the repository for the following collections:

  • Author and historian Paul Dickson’s research materials and correspondence related to three of his major manuscripts: The Dickson Baseball Dictionary; The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced  and Enhanced the History of Baseball; and Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.  Published originally in 1989, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary ranks as the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to baseball terminology ever compiled.  Now available in its third edition, the book was awarded the 1989 Macmillan-SABR Award for Baseball Research and has been hailed as “a staggering piece of scholarship” by the Wall Street Journal.
  • The Tony Salin Research Collection, which includes photographs and reference materials from the late baseball author and historian, who dedicated much of his life to the study of unsung ballplayers and forgotten aspects of baseball history.  Included in this collection are research materials for his book, Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes: One Fan’s Search for the Game’s Most Interesting Overlooked Players, highlighting baseball icons such as Pete Gray, Chuck Connors, Bill Lange, Buzz Arlett, and Frenchy Bordagaray.
  • Author and historian Tim Wendel’s research files for his books Summer of ’68: The Season that Changed Baseball—and America—Forever and High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time.  Wendel, who teaches writing at The Johns Hopkins University, was a founding editor of USA Today Baseball Weekly.
  • The Henry Goldich Collection, an archive of Los Angeles Dodgers programs, scorecards, and ephemera dating from 1961 through the early 1970s.
  • The Baseball Reliquary’s organizational history and documentation from its founding in 1996 to the present, including news releases, flyers, miscellaneous clippings, catalogs and correspondence.  Included are extensive files for its Shrine of the Eternals, the Baseball Reliquary’s alternative hall of fame, including all of the original ballots submitted by Baseball Reliquary members since annual voting began in 1999.

The Institute for Baseball Studies is supported, in part, by a POET Internship provided by Whittier College and by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Combined No-Hitters – Some Unique Moments

Cole Hamels - started MLB's most recent combined no-hitter.

Cole Hamels – started MLB’s most recent combined no-hitter.

On September 1, the Phillies used four pitchers to no-hit the Braves 7-0 in Atlanta.  It was the fourth no-hitter of the season, 2014’s first combined no-hitter and the eleventh combined no-hitter in MLB history. The pitchers involved were Cole Hamels, who started and went six innings (issuing five walks versus seven strikeouts); Jake Diekman (one inning, two strikeouts); Ken Giles (one inning, three strikeouts); and Jonathan Papelbon (one inning, no strikeouts).  The news of the combined no-hitter gave BBRT cause to reflect on past no-hitters involving more than one pitcher.  Here’s a look at those games and what made some of them unique.

The first-ever combine no-hitter took place on June 23, 1917 – with the Red Sox topping the Senators 4-0 in Boston. This game is special for several reasons: it was the first MLB combined no-hitter; Babe Ruth was involved;  it involved the most meager contribution by the starting pitcher (zero innings pitched); and, finally, it is arguably the most “perfect” combined no-hitter ever.

Babe Ruth, at that time plying his trade as a left-handed starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, opened the game by walking Washington’s lead-off hitter Roy Morgan.  Ruth, and his catcher Pinch Thomas, took issue with umpire Brick Owens’ strike zone and, during the argument, Ruth made contact with the umpire (a glancing blow, it was reported).  The ultimate result of the confrontation was the ejection of both Ruth and Thomas (with Ruth earning a $100 fine and ten-game suspension).  Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore was called in to replace Ruth and Slam Agnew to take Thomas’ spot behind the plate (Pinch Thomas replacing Slam Agnew – weren’t those old nicknames great?).  Morgan decided to test Agnew’s arm and was thrown out stealing, after which Shore retired the next 26 hitters in order – completing the first combined no-hitter and facing the minimum 27 batters.

Given the past propensity for pitchers finishing what they started, MLB’s second combined no-hitter came 50 seasons and 70 no-hitters later – on April 30, 1967, with the Tigers defeating the Orioles 2-1 in Baltimore.  This combined no-hitter is unique because it was not a “no- no” (no hits – no runs), the team that threw the no-hitter lost (the only combined no-hitter loss) and it involved the briefest contribution by the relief staff (one pitcher/one-third inning pitched).

Orioles’ starter Steve Barber and was effectively wild, walking ten hitters and hitting two in 8 2/3 innings. The opposing hurler was Detroit’s Earl Wilson – who matched goose eggs with Barber for seven innings. In the eighth, Baltimore pushed across a run on three walks and a sacrifice fly (Wilson gave up only two hits and four walks in his eight innings of work) and victory was there if Barber could take it. He didn’t.  Barber walked Tiger 1B Norm Cash to start the ninth. He then walked SS Ray Oyler. Earl Wilson, a good-hitting pitcher, bunted the runners to second and third, before Barber got the second out of the inning, inducing PH Willie Horton to pop up to the catcher.  Now, just one out away from a 1-0, no-hit win, Barber uncorked a wild pitch that brought the tying run home. He then walked CF Mickey Stanley, ending his day on the mound. Stu Miller came in to get the final out, but not until an error allowed the go-ahead run to score.

Combined no-hitter number three came on September 28, 1975, with the A’s topping the Angels 5-0 in Oakland.  This game was unique in that it is one of only three no-hitters thrown on the final day of an MLB season – and it made starting pitcher Vida Blue the first hurler to take part in both a solo and combined no-hitter. (Blue had thrown a solo no-hitter on September 21, 1970.) Blue went five innings and was followed by Glenn Abbott (one inning), Paul Lindblad (one inning) and Rollie Fingers (2 innings). This was also the first time more than two pitchers were involved in a combined no-hitter.  Note: Blue has been joined by Kevin Millwood, Kent Mercker and Mike Witt as pitchers with both solo and combined no-hitters.)

The next combined no-hitter went back to the two-pitcher formula, as Blue Moon Odom (5 innings) and Francisco Barrios (4 innings) of the White Sox topped the A’s 2-1 in Oakland.  In the July 28, 1976 game, Blue walked five and gave up one run in his five frames, and Barrios added two walks in his four.

Combined no-hitter number-five came on April 11, 1990 (again just two pitchers), with the Angels topping the Mariners 1-0 in Anaheim.  Mark Langston started the game and went seven, and Mike Witt (the only pitcher to throw a perfect game – September 30, 1984 – and take part in a combined no-hitter ) threw the final two.

1991 saw seven MLB no-hitters including two combined no-nos. On July 13, the Orioles no-hit the A’s 2-0 in Oakland behind Bob Milacki (five innings), Mike Flanagan (one IP), Mark Williamson (one IP) and Gregg Olson (one IP). Then, on September 11, the Braves no-hit the Padres 1-0 in Atlanta, led by Kent Mercker (six innings), Mark Wohlers (two innings) and Alejandro Pena (one inning).

Combined no-hitter number eight came on July 12, 1997 – with the Pirates topping the Astros 3-0 in Pittsburgh.  It was unique in that it was the only extra-inning combined “no-no.” Francisco Cordova started and went nine hitless frames (two walks, ten whiffs) and Ricardo Rincon threw one hitless inning in relief (for the win).

The next combined no hitter was a record breaker – as the Astros used a record six pitchers (since tied) to no-hit the Yankees 8-0 in an inter-league game at Yankee Stadium (the last no-hitter at Old Yankee Stadium). Roy Oswalt started, but succumbed to a groin injury after just one completed inning. Joining in the no-hitter were: Pete Munro (2 2/3 IP); Kirk Saarlos (1 1/3 IP); Brad Lidge (2 IP); Octavio Dotel (1 IP); and Billy Wagner (1 IP). Notably, the no-hitter also broke up the Yankee’s record streak of 6,980 games without being held hitless. They had not been held without a safety since September 20, 1958.

The very next combined no-hitter – another interleague game – saw the six-pitcher record tied, as the Mariners topped the Dodgers 1-0 in Seattle. Kevin Millwood started that one (six innings), followed by Charlie Furbush (2/3 IP), Stephen Pryor (1/3 IP), Lucas Luetge (1/3 IP), Brandon League (2/3 IP) and TomWilhemson (one IP).

And that bring us up to the Phillies’ four-hurler, Labor Day 2014 gem.

 

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August Wrap Up – Keep an Eye on AL Central

Greg Holland and the Royals had a lot to celebrate in August.

Greg Holland and the Royals had a lot to celebrate in August.

The “Dog Days of August” were very good to a number of teams – particularly in the AL, where the Orioles and Royals shared MLB’s best August record (19-9, .679) – enabling the Orioles to extend their AL East lead and the Royals to move past Detroit (16-15 for August) into the AL Central lead. For the month, four teams reached 19 victories (The Orioles, Royals, Angels and Nationals, with the Angels and Nats each having ten losses). The worst August record goes to the Chicago White Sox at 9-19 (.321).  The Diamondbacks at 9-18 had the worst August showing in the NL.

As BBRT provides its monthly update, let’s look first (as usual) at which teams would be in the playoff if the season had ended at the close of play on August 31.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Division Leaders: Orioles, Royals and Angels – The Orioles extended their lead by following up a strong 17-8 July with a solid 19-9 August (with the second-place Yankees going 15-13 for the month). Meanwhile, the Royals used a 19-9 August record to slide past the Tigers into first place in the Central, while the Angels used a 19-10 month to move ahead of the skidding A’s (12-17 in August).

Wild Cards: The A’s finished August with a four-game cushion over the Tigers in the Wild Card race, while Detroit found themselves only one-half game ahead of the surging Mariners (17-10 in August).

Race(s) to Watch: Central Division – Will the Royals be able to hold their slim lead over the injury-plagued Tigers – and what role will the Indians (just 3 ½ out) play? Will Seattle push its way into the Wild Card (just a half game behind Detroit)?

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Division Leaders: There was far less turmoil in the NL, where the Brewers, Dodgers and Nationals all held on to their Division leads. The Brewers lead, however, is tenuous – they are actually tied for first place with the Cardinals. St. Louis went 16-13 for the month, while Milwaukee went 13-14. The Nationals had the NL’s best August record at 19-10, and finished the month with a six-game edge over the Braves, who played .500 ball for August (14-14).

Wild Cards: The NL Wild Card race sees the Giants finishing August with a one-game lead over the Cardinals and Brewers (if the season ended August 31, one would be division champ and the other the WC). The WC race is tight – with the Braves one game behind the Cards/Brewers and the Pirates just two games back.

Race(s) to Watch:  The Cardinals and Brewers – now tied for Central lead, but the Cards seem to have the momentum. The Dodgers and Giants – with these traditional rivals separated by just 2 ½ games. A wide open Wild Card race involving St, Louis, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Full Standings (as of August 31) and each team’s August record at the end of this post. 

 

TID BITS

Run This One By Me

No team scored more runs in August than the Minnesota Twins (159). Unfortunately, they also gave up 163 runs (only the White Sox gave up more tallies at 167).  So, despite the most prolific offense, the Twins were 11-18 for the month.

The stingiest teams in August?  The Indians in the AL (79 runs given up) and the Padres in the NL – 93). Looking at ERA’s, your top August numbers belong to the Indians (2.39 for the month) in the AL and the Nationals (2.95) in the NL.

The Upton Brothers Have a Place in Baseball History.

On August 8, Braves’ outfielders Justin and B.J. Upton each hit two-run homers in Atlanta’s 7-6 win over the Washington Nationals in Atlanta.  Not only did the home runs key a vital win in a tight divisional race (and break an eight-game losing streak), they enabled the Uptons to set a new MLB record for the number of times brothers have homered in the same game for the same team – five.

Both homers were hit off Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg.  Justin’s, hit in the bottom of the first inning, traveled 424-feet to center field.  B.J.’s, rapped in the second inning, was a 401-foot shot to left field.

This was the second time the Upton’s homered in the same game this season (the previous time was June 24 against the Astros) and the record fifth time in their careers – breaking the MLB mark they previously shared with Jeremy and Jason Giambi and Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero.

19th-Inning Walk Offs

Nothing like a 19th-inning walk off.

Nothing like a 19th-inning walk off.

On August 9, Albert Pujols brought an end to a 19-inning, six-hour and  31-minute game, with a  walk-off homer (on a 3-2 count) off the Red Sox’ Brandon Workman – the ninth pitcher used by Boston in the game.  The two teams used a total of 18 hurlers.

The very next day (August 10), the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista also ended a 19-inning contest in walk-off fashion – as Toronto topped Detroit 6-5. The game lasted 6 hours and 37 minutes and was the longest in Blue Jays’ history in both time and innings. Bautista’s walk-off hit was a single to right (with the bases loaded) off Detroit’s Rick Porcello, scoring Munenori Kawasaki. It was the first hit in eight at-bats for Bautista, who also walked twice.  Each team used eight pitchers in the contest.

Double-digit Streak

From August 12-21, the Nationals won ten games in a row, tying the Royals for the longest MLB 2014 unbeaten streak (June 7-18).  There have also been a couple of double-digit losing streaks in MLB this season.  The Red Sox dropped ten in a row between May 15 and May 25 and, the day the Red Sox’ streak ended, the Rays started their own ten-game losing streak (May 26-June 5). The Braves, Rockies and Marlins have each “enjoyed” eight-game losing streaks this season – the longest in the NL.

Mo’Ne Davis Makes Little League World Series’ History

On August 15th, 13-year-old Mo’Ne Davis became the first female to throw a shutout in Little League World Series’ history.  In her Philadelphia (Taney Dragons) team’s 4-0 win over a squad from South Nashville, Tennessee, Davis fanned eight, while giving up only two hits. Davis struck out the side in the final frame (the sixth inning). Davis’ LLWS shutout followed her complete-game shutout in the Regional Championships.

Big Papi Joins Boston Elite

Big Papi - plenty to smile abouit.

Big Papi – plenty to smile abouit.

On August 16, David “Big Papi” Ortiz hit his 27th and 28th home runs of the 2014 season – which were also his 400th and 401st as a member of the Red Sox.  In the process, Ortiz joined Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players with 400+ home runs for the Red Sox.  (As of August 16th, Ortiz had 459 career regular-season HRs.) Ortiz went three-for-five in the game (two homers and a double), driving in six runs as the Sox topped Houston 10-7 in Boston.  The six RBI temporarily gave him the MLB RBI lead at 91.

Cuddyer Hits for Cycle

On August 17th, the Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer celebrated coming of the disabled list (after missing 60 games with a fractured shoulder) in style.  First, he played in two games on his first day back (a Rockies’ doubleheader sweep of the Reds). More significantly, in his second game of the day – a 10-5 Rockies win – he hit for the cycle. Cuddyer was four-for-five in the game, with three runs scored and three RBI.  He went one-for-five in the first game.

Cuddyer is the 30th player in MLB history to hit for the cycle more than once (he also achieved the feat as a Minnesota Twin on  May 22, 2009) and just the third to hit for the cycle in both the NL and AL – joining Bob Watson (Astros on June 24, 1977 and Red Sox on September 15, 1979) and John Olerud (Mets on September 11, 1997 and Mariners on June 16, 2001).

Putting Them Down in Order

On August 28th, Giant’s RH reliever Yusmeiro Petit set an MLB record when he retired his 46th consecutive hitter (over eight appearances versus eight different teams). Petit struck out 21 of the 46 hitters he faced during his historic streak which was – ironically – broken by a double off the bat of Rockies’ pitcher Jordan Lyles. (Another reason BBRT hates the DH.)

Eight is Enough

On August 30, the Angels – in a critical game against the A’s – used eight pitchers to complete a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win.  In order, with the number of innings pitched, the Angels’ hurlers were: Cory Rasmus (3 IP); Michael Roth (1/3); Yoslan Herrera (2/3); Fernando Salas (1); Jason Grilli (1); Kevin Jepsen (1); Joe Smith (1); Huston Street (1). Herrera got the win, just his second MLB victory and first since 2008.  The use of eight pitchers in a shutout ties an MLB record – shared by the Red Sox (1999), Rays (2010) and Braves (2012).

On the other side of the coin, losing pitcher Jeff Samardzija went the distance, giving up just four hits and two runs (one earned), while issuing no walks and striking out eight.  While using eight pitchers to notch a shutout is pretty amazing, back on June 11, 2003, the Astros used six pitchers to no-hit the Yankees 8-0 at Yankee Stadium – the very last no-hitter in old Yankee Stadium and the most pitchers ever involved in a combined no-hitter.(On June 8, 2013, the Seattle Mariners also used six hurlers in a no-hitter against the Dodgers.)

Now let’s look at some MLB “numbers” through August

Individual Leaders

Batting Leaders – August 31 Close of MLB (Major League Business) and for the Month

Yaz - won 1968 batting title with .301 average.

Yaz – won 1968 batting title with .301 average.

With Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki and his .340 batting average on the disabled list (and no longer having enough plate appearances to qualify), the NL batting lead went to Rockies’ 1B Justin Morneau (.311).  The race, without Tulo, is wide open, with Morneau trailed by Pirates’ 3B/OF Josh Harrison (.310) and Phillies’ OF Ben Revere (.308). From an historic perspective, no one has captured an MLB league batting title with an average below .320 since 1991 (Terry Pendleton, Braves, .319) and the lowest average ever for a league leader is .301 (Carl Yastrzemski, Boston, 1968).

In the  AL, Astro’s 2B Jose Altuve continued to hold the batting lead at the end of August with a .336 average, followed by Detroit DH Victor Martinez at .327.

Looking at the month (minimum 50 plate appearances), a couple of new names emerge.  In the AL, White Sox’ OF Adam Eaton hit .429 for the month (49 plate appearances), while the NL’s top August hitter was Dodgers’ 3B Justin Turner (.386).

In the power department, Orioles’ DH Nelson Cruz finished August atop the AL and MLB with 35 home runs, moving past White Sox’ rookie first baseman Jose Abreu (33).  Astros’ DH Chris Carter had a strong August (more later) and also finished the month with 33 HRs.

Thirty-three homers were enough to lead the NL – accomplished by Marlins’ OF Giancarlo Stanton. Others who finished August with at least 30 HRs were: Angels’ OF Mike Trout (31); Boston DH David Ortiz (30); and Cubs’ 1B (Anthony Rizzo (30).

For the month of August, Astros’ DH Chris Carter topped all of MLB with 12 round trippers, followed by OF Alex Gordon of the Royals with nine.  Marlins’ OF Giancarlo Stanton led the NL with eight August homers.

Jose Abreu - one shy of 100 RBI at the end of August.

Jose Abreu – one shy of 100 RBI at the end of August.

As of August 31, the AL RBI leader was White Sox’ 1B Jose Abreu (99)’ while the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton topped the NL with 98. Others topping 90 RBI as we went into September were: Angels’ OF Mike Trout (97); Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz (95); Tigers’ 3B Miguel Cabrera (91); Braves’ OF Justin Upton (91); and Dodgers’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez (91).

August’s RBI leaders were the Astros’ Chris Carter and Red Sox’ Victor Martinez in the AL, with 30 – and Braves’ OF Justin Upton in the NL with 28.

Through August, Dodgers’ 2B Dee Gordon (58 stolen bases/15 caught stealing) continued to lead the NL in the speed department, while Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve topped the AL with 49 SB, caught seven times. Other players with 40 or more steals through August were: Reds’ OF Billy Hamilton (54 SB/20 CS) and Phillies’ OF Ben Revere (40 SB/5 CS).

Four players topped 10 steals for the month of August, led by the Reds’ Billy Hamilton with 12 steals in 16 attempts;  OF Jordan Schaffer, who moved from the Braves to the Twins, had 11 steals in 12 attempts; the Phillies’ Ben Revere was 10 for 11 on the bases; and the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon was 10 for 13.

Pitching Leaders YTD (Through August 31) and for the Month

Clayton Kershaw - making the case for another Cy Young.

Clayton Kershaw – making the case for another Cy Young.

Through August, three pitchers – all in the NL – had reached 16 wins: the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (16-3); the Reds’ Johnny Cueto (16-8); and the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (16-9).   Over in the AL., the Angels’ Jered Weaver, the Tigers Max Scherzer and the Tigers’ Rick Porcello all had 15 wins as August closed out.

The month of August was big for the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker, who led all of MLB with 6 wins (versus just one August loss). Shoemaker’s 1.31 ERA was also the lowest among AL pitchers with at least 20 IP in the month. Thirteen pitchers logged four wins for the month, including the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who went 4-1 in ix starts and had the lowest ERA in the NL for the month (minimum 20 IP) at 1.57.

For the season (through August 31), your ERA leaders were the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.73) and the White Sox’ Chris Sale (2.11).

The strikeout leader in the AL through August remained Tiger (former Ray) David Price, with 224 whiffs in 203 1/3 innings – followed closely by teammate Max Scherzer with 220 Ks in 187 2/3 IP. The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg continued to lead the NL with 210 Ks in 183 innings. Other hurlers who topped the 200 mark by August 31 included: the Indians’ Corey Kluber (213 K in 192 2/3 IP); the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (205 in 198 innings); and the Reds’ Johnny Cueto (205 in 207 IP).

In August, nobody stuck out more hitters than the White Sox’ Chris Sale with 56 Ks in 39 August innings. The Giants’ Madison Bumgarner matched Sales’ total, to lead the NL with 56 strikeouts in 46 August innings.

At the close of August, your saves leader was the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel (41 saves in 45 opportunities), while the Royals’ Greg Holland led the AL with 40 saves in 42 chances.  The only other pitcher with 40 saves as of August 31 was the Cardinals’  Trevor Rosenthal (40 saves in 45 opportunities).

The Royals’ Greg Holland led all of MLB in August saves (11), helping spur the Royals surge.  Craig Kimbrel of the Braves led the NL with 9 August saves.

Standings as of August 31 (close of play)

AL EAST

TEAM                W        L          PCT     GB       (Aug)

Baltimore        79        56        .585                 (19-9)

NY Yankees    70        65        .519     9.0       (15-13)

Toronto           69        67        .507     10.5     (9-17)

Tampa Bay     66        77        .482    14.0     (13-16)

Boston            60        76        .441     19.5    (12-16)

 

AL CENTRAL

Kansas City     74        61         .548                 (19-9)

Detroit             74        62        .544    0.5       (16-15)

Cleveland        70        64        .522     3.5       (17-9)

Chicago WS    62        75         .453    13.0     (9-19)

Minnesota       59        77        .434     11.0     (11-18)

 

AL WEST

LA Angels        83        53        .610                 (19-10)

Oakland          78        58        .574     5.0       (12-17)

Seattle             73        62        .541     9.5       (17-10)

Houston           59        79        .428     25.0     (15-14)

Texas               53        83       .390     16.0     (10-18)

 

NL EAST

Washington     77        58        .570                 (19-10)

Atlanta            72        65         .526    6.0       (14-14)

Miami              66        69        .489     11.0     (13-14)

NY Mets          64        73        .467     14.0     (12-17)

Philadelphia    62        74        .456     15.5     (14-13)

 

NL CENTRAL

Milwaukee        73        63        .537                 (13-14)

St. Louis          73        63        .537                (16-13)

Pittsburgh        71        65        .522     2.0       (14-14)

Cincinnati        66        71        .482     7.5       (12-17)

Chicago Cubs  61        76        .4445   12.5     (16-14)

 

NL WEST

LA Dodgers       77        60        .562                 (15-13)

San Francisco  74        62        .544     2.5       (16-12)

San Diego        64        71        .474   12.5       (16-11)

Arizona            57        79        .419   19.5       (9-18)

Colorado         54        82        .397   22.5       (10-18)

 

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Longest Winning Streak – 29 Games to Celebrate Independence

Cooperstown - home to 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers memorabilia.

Cooperstown – home to 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers memorabilia.

When the Single A (Rookie) Pioneer League Salt Lake City Trappers topped the Pocatello Giants 12-6 on June 25, 1987, no one – including the Trappers themselves – could have predicted it would be more than a month before they would taste defeat.  The Trappers would, in fact, go on to win a total of 29 consecutive games – in a winning streak that ran from June 25 through July 26 and remains the longest unbeaten streak in professional baseball.

The Trappers – an independent team in a rookie league that featured teams affiliated with the Reds, Dodgers, Brewers, Blue Jays, Braves and Giants – were made up of players who went undrafted or unsigned by baseball’s major league franchises.  Despite the fact that major league franchises had the inside track on signing the best players (deeper pockets, advanced scouting, more opportunity) and in spite of the support from their major league parent clubs enjoyed by most of the Trappers’ competition, the Salt Lake City team enjoyed considerable  success and, in 1987,  were on their way to a third consecutive Pioneer League championship.

The team stocked its roster through relatively open tryouts, but there seemed to be an emphasis on former college players who felt they had something to prove to the MLB franchises that had “rejected” them in the draft or during the signing period.  (Some argued that the Trappers, despite going unsigned, were older and more experienced than many of their developing competitors.  However, the team’s average age was only about eight months older than the overall Pioneer League average.) While 13 members of the 1987 Trappers’ squad eventually signed with major league organizations, none made it to the major leagues.

During the 29-game winning streak, the Trappers outscored the opposition 255-122.  The streak included 15 road and 14 home games, three extra-inning contests, four one-run victories and a doubleheader sweep.  Notably, the Trappers went on to record a 49-21 season, finish first in their division and beat the Helena Brewers in the League Championship Series.

The Trappers relied on their bats to carry the day, scoring the most runs in the eight-team league (543, with their nearest rival – the Helena Brewers – trailing by 92), while giving up the fifth-most runs.  The Trappers’ .320 team batting average led the Pioneer League, while their 4.65 team ERA was fourth (the Great Falls Dodgers had the league’s lowest ERA at 3.48).

Here’s a bit of background on some of the 1987 Trappers’ key players:

Adam Casillas (OF) … Casillas played in 60 of the Trappers’ 70 games in 1987, putting up a .385-1-44 (avg.-HR-RBI) line. Signed by Reds after playing with the Trappers (also later played in Royals’ system and the Mexican League), Casillas had the longest professional career among the 1987 Trappers. In nine minor league seasons, he got as high as AAA. He hit over .300 in five seasons, including .307 for the AAA Omaha Royals (89 games) in 1992.  Notably, his minor-league resume includes three batting titles:  1989, Midwest League – .327 for the Cedar Rapids Reds; 1990, Southern League – .336 for the Chattanooga Lookouts; 1994, Mexican League – .367 for Monterrey Industriales.  In 4,109 minor league at bats, Casillas struck out only 190 times.

Frank Colston (1B) … Hit .397-1-46 in 52 games for the 1987 Trappers. Signed by the Mariners, Colston lasted two seasons, never playing above Class A. He hit .209 in 67 games for the Wausau Timbers (Mariners’ affiliate) in the Midwest League in 1988. He finished his pro playing career in 1989 with the unaffiliated Miami Miracle.  Colston played college ball (1985-86) for Louisiana Tech, where he was an All Southland Conference player both seasons and was later selected to the 1980’s Southland Conference All Decade Team.  He went .352-20-98 in 105 games for Louisiana Tech.

Jim Ferguson (SS) … Hit .327-3-40, while holding down SS position in 65 games for the 1987 Trappers. Ferguson then signed with the Cardinals, where he reached High A, hitting .251, with one homer and 30 RBIs in 126 games (1989) for A-Level Savannah Cardinals. His  last professional season was 1990.  Ferguson was an All New England player for University of New Haven (1983-86).

Eddie Citronelli (OF-C) … Citronelli hit .303-10-57 in 67 games for 1987 Trappers, in what was his only professional season.

Mike Malinak (OF) … Malinak played 69 games for the 1987 Trappers, hitting .321-12-57 (the 12 home runs led the league). Signed by the Reds, Malinak hit .232-17-66 in two seasons in their system, both for the Class A Cedar Rapids Reds (Midwest League).His last pro season was 1989.  Before joining the Trappers, Malinak had been a star for Baylor University and his career record for hits was broken in 1996.

Mathis Huff (OF) … Huff hit a Pioneer League-leading .417 (48 games) for the 1987 Trappers, with 7 home runs and 37 RBI. The six-foot-seven, Samoan-born Huff played one more season – for the unaffiliated Miami Miracle (A level), hitting .239-4-31.

Kent Hetrick (RHP) … Hetrick went 9-2, 4.84 for 1987 Trappers (26 walks/63 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings). Signed by the Reds, Hetrick played two seasons in their system, getting as high as the AA El Paso Diablos of the Texas League.   Hetrick went 11-14, 3.71 in those two seasons in the Reds’ system.

Tim Peters (RHP) … Reliever Peters appeared in 38 of the 1987 Trappers’ 70 games, going 9-3, 2.10 with 11 saves (29 walks/83 strikeouts in 87 innings). Signed by the Expos (also played in Indians’ system), Peters went 11-9, 2.15 with 37 saves in three seasons with MLB affiliates.  1990 was his final professional season.

Michael Humphrey (RHP) … In 1987, went 5-2, 3.29 for the Trappers (after a 5-3, 4.17, Trapper season in 1986).  1987 was his last pro season. Humphrey played his college ball at Indiana University, leading the team in victories (10) in 1985 and still holding the IU career record for complete games (22 …1982-85).

While the players from the 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers may not have made it all the way to the show, they did make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame – which includes memorabilia from that 1987 29-game winning streak.

 

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30-30 Club … Bobby and Barry “Bonding” at the Top

With approximately 30 games left in the 2014 season (give or take a game or two depending on the team), it appears 2014 will not see any new members of the 30-30 (HRs-SBs) Club.  At this point, the player with the best chance at 30-30 is the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez (.286, with 21 home runs and 28 steals). Only one other player is even at the 20-20 mark – Twins’ second baseman Brian Dozier (.236, with 20 homers and 20 steals).  MLB’s last 30-30 seasons were achieved in 2012 by Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun and Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout.

Here are few facts about the 30-30 club.

Bobby Bonds notched an MLB-record five 30-30 seasons - matched only by his son Barry.

Bobby Bonds notched an MLB-record five 30-30 seasons – matched only by his son Barry.

In MLB history, there have been sixty 30-30 seasons – achieved by 38 players (13 players have recorded multiple 30-30 seasons).  Of those 38 Club members, 26 have been outfielders, four have been shortstops, three second baseman, three third baseman, two first baseman and zero catchers.  This count is not precise, as Alfonso Soriano is counted among the second baseman, although he achieved 30-30 as both a second baseman (three times) and as an outfielder (once). In addition, Joe Carter is listed among first baseman – having played the majority of his 1987 30-30 season at that position (84 games), while also logging 62 games in the outfield.

The 30-30 Club includes 26 right-handed hitters, eight who hit from the left side and four switch hitters.  

Saint Louis Browns’ left-handed hitting outfielder Ken Williams became the first-ever member of the 30-30 Club in 1922 (at age 32, in his seventh MLB season), when he hit .332 with 39 home runs and 37 steals – while also leading the AL in RBI with 155 (still the most RBI ever in a 30-30 campaign). Williams struck out only 31 times that season, which remains the lowest strikeout total ever in a 30-30 season.

In 1956, New York Giants’ center fielder Willie Mays became the second member of the 30-30 Club (.296, with 36 homers and 40 steals) and the first right-handed hitter to have a 30-30 season.  Mays also became the first player to log consecutive 30-30 seasons – with a .333, 35-home run, 38-steal campaign in 1957.  The current record for consecutive 30-30 seasons is three (Barry Bonds, 1995, 1996, 1997).  Other players with two consecutive 30-30 seasons are: Ron Gant (1990, 1991), Vladimir Guerrero (2001, 2002), Alfonso Soriano (2002, 2003 and 2005, 2006) and Ryan Braun (2011, 2012).

Bobby Bonds broke into the 30-30 Club in 1969, his first full major league season (he had been called up by the Giants in late June of 1968). In 1969, Bonds put up 32 homers, 45 steals and a .259 average.  Bonds went on to set the record of five 30-30 seasons (1969, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978).  The record was later tied by his son, Barry Bonds, who notched 30-30 seasons in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Currently active, Alfonso Soriano has four 30-30 campaigns (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006).  Next on the list with three 30-30 seasons is Howard Johnson (1987, 1989 and 1991).

Bobby Bonds also achieved 30-30 seasons with more different teams than any other player: The Giants (1969 & 1973), the Yankees (1975), the Angels (1977) and the White Sox/Rangers (1978). In the process, he became the first player to log a 30-30 season in both the NL and the AL (later to be joined by his son Barry and Alfonso Soriano with that distinction), as well as the first player to log a 30-30 campaign while playing with two teams. In 2004, Carlos Beltran became the first player to log a 30-30 season while playing in both leagues (69 games with the Royals and 90 with the Astros).

In 1970, Tommy Harper recorded MLB’s sixth 30-30 season and the first by a non-outfielder (Harper played 128 games at third base, 22 at second and 13 in the outfield).

The first season to see more than one 30-30 player was 1987, when Joe Carter, Eric Davis, Howard Johnson and Daryl Strawberry all reached the milestone. Johnson and Strawberry, both with the Mets, also became the first teammates to achieve 30-30 status in the same season.  Ellis Burks and Dante Bichette of the 1996 Colorado Rockies are the only other teammates to put together 30-30 seasons in the same campaign.  Four remains the single-season high for 30-30 players, accomplished in: 1996 (Dante Bichette, Ellis Burks, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin); 1997 (Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Raul Mondesi, Larry Walker) and 2011 (Ryan Braun, Jacob Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler).

Jose Canseco - first member of the 40-40 Club.

Jose Canseco – first member of the 40-40 Club.

In 1988, Oakland A’s outfielder Jose Canseco started a new, even more exclusive, club – the 40-40 Club – when he hit .307, with 42 homers and 40 steals.  Giants’ outfielder Barry Bonds joined Canseco at 40-40 in 1996, with a .306 season, featuring 42 home runs and 40 steals. Alex Rodriguez (then handling shortstop for the Seattle Mariners) went 40-40 in 1998 (.310, with 42 homers and 46 stolen bases).  The most recent member of the 40-40 club is Alfonso Soriano (Washington Nationals, outfielder), who hit .277, with 46 home runs and 41 steals in 2006. Notably, Soriano earlier joined the 30-30 club as a second baseman (2002, 2003, 2005).  Note: In 2011, Dodgers’ outfield Matt Kemp made a run at the 40-40 club, finishing with 40 steals and 39 home runs.

In 1996, Barry Larkin become the first shortstop to log a 30-30 season, with a .298, 33-home run, 36-steal year.  (Note:  Howard Johnson, primarily a third baseman, did play 30+ games at shortstop in both his 1987 and 1989 30-30 seasons.)

Before we get to a list of 30-30 seasons, here are a few more factoids:

  •  Fewest at bats in a 30-30 season:  437 – Barry Bonds (1992)
  •  Highest average in a 30-30 season: .366 – Larry Walker (1997)
  • Lowest average in a 30-30 season: .251 – Ron Gant (1991)
  • Most HRs in a 30-30 season: 49 – Larry Walker (1997)
  • Most steals in a 30-30 season: 52 – Barry Bonds (1990)
  • Most RBI in a 30-30 season: 155 – Ken Williams (1922)
  • Fewest RBI in a 30-30 season: 67 – Hanley Ramirez (2008)
  • Most runs scored in a 30-30 season: 143 – Larry Walker (1997), Jeff Bagwell (1999)
  • Fewest runs scored in a 30-30 season: 83 – Joe Carter (1987)
  • Most strikeouts in a 30-30 season: 187 – Bobby Bonds 1969), Preston Wilson (2000)
  • Fewest strikeouts in a 30-30 season: 31 – Ken Williams (1922)

 

The 30–30 Club – 40-40 seasons in red

Year                 Name                                       HR       SB

1922                Ken Williams,   Browns             39        37

1956                Willie Mays, Giants                   36        40

1957                Willie Mays, Giants                   35        38

1963                Hank Aaron, Braves                 44        31

1969                Bobby Bonds, Giants               32        45

1970                Tommy Harper, Brewers          31        38

1973                Bobby Bonds, Giants               39        43

1975                Bobby Bonds, Yankees            32        30

1977                Bobby Bonds, Angels               37        41

1978                Bobby Bonds, CWS/Texas        31        43

1983                Dale Murphy, Braves                36        30

1987                Joe Carter, Indians                   32        31

1987                Eric Davis, Reds                       37        50

1987                Howard Johnson, Mets             36        32

1987                Darryl Strawberry, Mets           39        36

1988                José Canseco, A’s                    42        40

1989                Howard Johnson, Mets             36        41

1990                Barry Bonds, Pirates                 33        52

1990                Ron Gant, Braves                     32        33

1991                Ron Gant, Braves                     32        34

1991                Howard Johnson, Mets             38        30

1992                Barry Bonds, Pirates                 34        39

1993                Sammy Sosa, Cubs                  33        36

1995                Barry Bonds, Giants                 33        31

1995                Sammy Sosa, Cubs                  36        34

1996                Dante Bichette, Rockies           31        31

1996                Barry Bonds, Giants                 42        40

1996                Ellis Burks, Rockies                  40        32

1996                Barry Larkin, Reds                   33        36

1997                Jeff Bagwell, Astros                  43        31

1997                Barry Bonds, Giants                 40        37

1997                Raúl Mondesí,  Dodgers           30        32

1997                Larry Walker, Rockies              49        33

1998                Shawn Green, Blue Jays           35        35

1998                Alex Rodriguez, Mariners         42        46

1999                Jeff Bagwell, Astros                  42        30

1999                Raúl Mondesí, Dodgers            33        36

2000                Preston Wilson, Marlins            31        36

2001                Bobby Abreu, Phillies               31        36

2001                José Cruz, Jr., Blue Jays          34        32

2001                Vladimir Guerrero, Expos         34        37

2002                Vladimir Guerrero, Expos         39        40

2002                Alfonso Soriano, Yankees        39        41

2003                Alfonso Soriano, Yankees        38        35

2004                Bobby Abreu, Phillies               30        40

2004                Carlos Beltrán, KC/Hous          38        42

2005                Alfonso Soriano, Rangers         36        30

2006                Alfonso Soriano, Nationals       46        41

2007                David Wright, Mets                  30        34

2007                Jimmy Rollins, Phillies              30        41

2007                Brandon Phillips, Reds             30        32

2008                Grady Sizemore, Indians           33        38

2008                Hanley Ramírez, Marlins           33        35

2009                Ian Kinsler, Rangers                 31        30

2011                Matt Kemp, Dodgers                 39        40

2011                Ryan Braun, Brewers                33        33

2011                Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox         32        39

2011                Ian Kinsler, Rangers                 32        30

2012                Ryan Braun, Brewers                41        30

2012                Mike Trout, Angels                   30        49

 

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MLB’s Most Oddly “Even” Game

On this date (August 13) in 1910, major league baseball saw one of its most “oddly even” games ever.  It was part of a double header played in Brooklyn between the Superbas (Dodgers) and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The first game of the double tilt had been a close contest, with the Pirates emerging with a 13-inning, 3-2 victory.   The last half of the double header, however, would prove an even tighter contest – and the time used in completing game one’s 13 innings would come into play.

First, here is the line score of Game 2, August 13, 1910

Pittsburgh         0 1 1    0 5 1   0 0 0      8   13   2

Brooklyn           0 0 0   3 3 0   0 2 0      8   13   2

The two-hour and five-minute game ended in an 8-8 tie, called due to darkness.  As you look at the line score, you’ll notice it was pretty even.  Each team scored eight runs on 13 hits and each squad made two errors.  But, when it came to an “evenly” played game, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Each team recorded 27 putouts (that’s, of course, pretty much a given for a complete nine innings).  Each team, however, also recorded: 13 assists; three walks; five strikeouts; one hit batsman; and one passed ball.  Further, the hitters collected their 13 safeties apiece on an identical 38 at bats and were awarded an identical five RBI per team. In addition, the pitchers on each team not only gave up eight runs for the game, each set of hurlers gave up seven earned runs over the nine innings.   So, we end up with two teams with identical totals for: runs scored; earned runs; putouts, assists; errors; at bats; hits; runs batted in; walks; strikeouts; hit batsmen; and passed balls.

Pirates' right fielder John Owen "Chief" Wilson hit the only home run in, arguably, MLB's most evenly contested game. Wilson hold the MLB record for triples in a season (36 in 1912).

Pirates’ right fielder John Owen “Chief” Wilson hit the only home run in, arguably, MLB’s most evenly contested game. Wilson holds the MLB record for triples in a season (36 in 1912).

Each team also collected one double – and each started a future Hall of Famer in LF (Fred Clarke for the Pirates and Zack Wheat for the Superbas).  Pittsburgh, however, had three additional extra base hits (two triples and a home run), while Brooklyn’s only additional extra base hit was a triple. In addition, the Pirates had a second future HOFer in the lineup (Honus Wagner at SS). As an aside, Nap Rucker, the starting pitcher for Brooklyn ended his career with 134 wins and, of course, 134 losses.

 

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