Ballpark Tours: One Busy Day – From Baseball to Fireworks to a Carraige Ride

Autozone Park - home of the Memphis Redbirds.

Autozone Park – home of the Memphis Redbirds.

A long bus ride, the Twins’ 1987 World Series video, an impromptu stop at the Saint Louis Cardinals’ Team Store, a baseball game in Memphis (TN), free hats and hot dogs, a light/power malfunction game delay, a 6-4-3 double play (finally) in the top of the ninth, impressive fireworks, a carriage ride home, a lobby bar … Day Two of Ballpark Tours XXXIV had a little bit of everything.  They do say, however, don’t bury the lead – so here goes.

Last night’s winning pitcher was the Tacoma Raniers’ Pat Venditte.  Why is that the lead?  Venditte got the victory (the Raniers won over the Memphis Redbirds 6-5 in a less than cleanly played contest) by virtue of two innings pitched, giving up one hit and two walks, no runs and fanning two – and pitching to six batters right-handed and two left-handed.  That’s right, our Ballpark Tours’ group got to see MLB’s most recent ambidextrous pitcher. Venditte, who was traded from Toronto to Seattle August 6 (and assigned to Tacoma by the Mariners), has plied his left-right trade in the majors for the Blue Jays and A’s – MLB stat line: 2-2, 4.58 in 34 games.  More on Venditte later, but when it comes to the second day of our ten-day baseball trek, he’s the lead.

With that, let’s take a look at Day Two in a somewhat chronological order.

THE RIDE

The Ozzie Smith statue outside the Cardinals Team Store.

The Ozzie Smith statue outside the Cardinals Team Store.

We go off to an early start from Peoria (IL), still lamenting: 1) Last night’s rainout; 2) The heat and humidity; 3) A not-so-friendly weather forecast for Memphis (our next stop).  Things picked up on the six-hour bus ride, thanks in part to the video of Game Seven of the Twins’ 1987 World Series win over the Cardinals. Our intrepid tour leader, Julian Loscalzo distributed the tickers for the Saturday and Sunday games on the bus – and we also each received vouchers for a Memphis Redbirds hat, hot dog and beverage for each game.  Freebies – almost as popular as the Twins (repeat) Game Seven win.  The day also included an impromtu stop at the St. Louis Cardinals Team Store – where we had a chance to check out the statues of Cardinal heroes from Hornsby to Musial to Smith.

THE HOTEL

We pulled into the Crowne Plaza Downtown Memphis – and, as usual, Ballpark Tours selected well-located (about a ten-block walk to the ballpark), quality accommodations. (The hotel completed a significant remodeling in May.)  The lobby bar, shuttle service (some preferred to avoid the ten-block walk) and breakfast buffet proved especially popular.  (And, I was even provided office space in which to work on this blog.)

THE BALL PARK- from blues to Bloody Mary’s

The Memphis Winslows.

The Memphis Winslows.

We headed to Autozone Park for the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariner’ farm club) versus Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals’ farm team) tilt about an hour before the 6:35 p.m. game time. I was glad I did, pregame there was a pretty good blues-rock band (The Memphis Winslows) playing in the right field corner.  I also had plenty of time to take in a few tunes, pick up a scorecard (free), purchase my traditional Bloody Mary and collect my freebies (nice hat, good hot dog, Diet Coke).

 

The family sedan of Bloody Mary's.

The family sedan of Bloody Mary’s.

I always review the Bloody Mary.  Autozone’s Park’s offering, available for $8.75 at the Brewhouse, was adequate (good pour and I was asked how spicy I wanted it).  However, there were none of the garnishes or extra spices (like celery salt) that make a Bloody Mary pop, at least in BBRT’s eyes. It was pretty much the family sedan of Bloody Mary’s. Stick to cold beer.

It was a hot and steamy night (sounds like the start of a mystery novel) and the threat of rain delayed the start of the game about ten minutes – getting the tarp on and off the field. We had great seats, lower deck in the first few rows just beyond first base.  (We had a perfect view of a catcher-to-first base pick-off in the bottom of the fifth inning).  The park itself, which opened in 2000, is slotted nicely into downtown Memphis.  Like CHS Field (Saint Paul Saints), you really don’t notice the ball park until you are practically at the gate and, once inside, you get the always pleasing panorama of a baseball arena.  Memphis also has one of the largest – and to my eye, clearest – video screens in the minor leagues – which, as you will read later, came in handy during a mid-game delay.  Like most minor league parks, there was plenty of between innings entertainment: Baby Races; Pizza Box Races; Tricycle Races.

THE GAME

Taijuan Walker - as seen from BPT's seats.

Taijuan Walker – as seen from BPT’s seats.

The game started off pretty well, zero-zero after three – and we were pleased to have a chance to see Taijuan Walker take the mound for the Raniers. The 23-year-old Walker, long considered a top prospect for the Mariners, went 11-8, 4.56 for the Mariners in 2015 – and was 4-7, 4.10 in 17 starts before an early August demotion (after a stretch of five starts in which his ERA was a lofty 5.96).

Things went a little south in the fourth inning, as the Raniers sent 11 hitters to the plate, scoring six runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batsman. Walker looked to be on the way to a victory – having given up no hits and fanning four in the first three frames (the only blemish was a hit-by-pitch). He had a six-run lead and just needed to go five innings for a win.  That was not to be. In the fourth, Walker gave up two runs on three doubles. The fifth would be even worse for Walker, who  retired the leadoff batter and then gave up two singles and a pair of walks (walking in a run) before the ambidextrous Venditte came. While Venditte did walk in another run, he got out of the inning and – as noted earlier – picked up the win.

Pat Venditte, Jr.

Pat Venditte was drafted by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 2008 MLB draft – out of   Creighton University, where the ambidextrous pitcher was a 2007 first-team All Missouri Valley Conference  player, the 2007 Most Valuable Player in the conference tournament and a third-team All American.  Since signing, he has been in the Yankees, A’s, Blue Jays and now the Mariners’ systems. In nine minor league seasons, his record is 21-23, 2.52 ERA, with 52 saves in 295 games. He appeared in the major with the A’s in 2015 and the Blue Jays in 2016 – going a combined 2-2, 4.58 in 34 games.

Throwing righty, Venditte delivers a mid- to high-80s fastball, as well as a slider and curve. Left-handed, he relies on a low- to mid-80s fastball and a slider.

The “Pat Venditte Rule”

Venditte’s ambidextrous offerings led to the development of a new set of rules – generally referred to as the Pat Venditte Rule – for dealing with the actions of  switch-pitchers within an at bat. Basically, a pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire which hand he intends to use to pitch to each batter – and he may not switch hands until that batter is retired, reaches base, the inning ends (i.e. baserunner picked off), a pinch hitter takes the batter’s place or the pitcher injures his arm.

Ultimately, the Raniers prevailed six-to-five in a game which we saw four pitchers for each team – 19 hits, 11 walks, two hit batters,  three wild pitches and one error; as well as a brief weather delay at the start of a game and an 18-minute mid-game delay  due to a power loss to parts  of the lighting banks. Note:  They put the Olympic swimming event on the video board during the delay and the U.S. relay team;s win got the most enthusiastic response of the night.  I did get to see my 6-4-3 double play (but not until the top of the ninth); Memphis’ left fielder Jose Martinez made a great sliding catch in the top of the first; Tacoma 2B Mike Freeman made a nice play, ranging to his right and making a jump/spin-move throw to first in the bottom of the second; and Tacoma catcher Jesus Sucre picked a Redbirds’ runner of first to end the fifth.

POST GAME

The ride home - in style.

The ride home – in style.

Post game the Redbirds put on a one of the best fireworks display we have seen on the tour – and, as one would expect in Memphis – it was set to music and video of Elvis.

Then it was back to the hotel – on foot, via shuttle or, for one group in true style, a horse-drawn carriage.

So, there is Day Two, I’ll report again from Nashville (tonight, in Memphis, it’s Elvis Night at the ball park). Now I’m off to explore Memphis.

 

In The Majors – A First First

Yesterday (August 13), Yankee prospects Tyler Austin (1B) and Aaron Judge (RF) made their major league debuts – and launched back-to-back home runs in the second inning of the Yankees 8-4 win over the Rays. It was the first at bat for each of them.  Judge and Aaron are the first teamates to hit home runs in their first MLB at bats in the same game. 

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

David Dahl – It’s Raining Records

REdAt 9:00 a.m. on Friday, August 12, 32 baseball fans – myself included – set out on Ballpark Tours Bleacher Bums XXXIV – a trip designed to take us to ten baseball games, in seven cities in ten days.  From Peoria (IL) to Memphis (TN) to Nashville (TN) to Chattanooga (TN) to Marion (IL) to Kansas City (MO) to Des Moines (IA), we would be taking in professional baseball at many levels (Independent, A, AA, AAA and Major League).

It was a fine rolling start, featuring some typical Ballpark Tours’ hoopla including the distribution of our tour t-shirts, a baseball  book exchange, a Bloody Mary Bar at the back of the bus (open at 11:15 a.m.) and snacks (cheese, meats, crackers) to accompany the morning beverages. As lunch time came around, we stopped for a rest-area picnic, where tour participants broke out fare from chicken-salad pocket breads to smoked whitefish and double butter brie to sushi.

As we re-boarded and burned up the miles with baseball stories and memories from past Ballpark Tours’ trips, we also received copies of this trip’s Trivia Kwiz and forms for a contest to guess the number of major league runs scored during the upcoming weekend. Wow, apparently there is homework on this trip – but it’s baseball homework.

Shortly after the lunch stop, the unrelenting rain started and, when we pulled into Peoria (a six-hour bus ride), we found our first game had been postponed – just the second rainout in Ballpark Tours’ 34-year history. Undaunted, groups set out from the hotel – the very nice Staybridge Inn and Suites (my room had a queen bed, coach and coffee table, desk, refrigerator, microwave, stove and even an icemaker and dishwasher). Our destination(s)?  Local restaurants and pubs, on foot or via hotel shuttle.

PubLibation and laughter (as well as supper) were the order of the evening.  The group I joined headed to Ulrich’s Rebellion Room – a nearby Irish-style pub.  Despite the rain, and some disappointment with the cancelled game (and missed fireworks and lost bobbleheads), there were plenty of smiles, laughter and toasts to our national pastime. And, imagine, the response, when the group learned the pub didn’t close until 4:00 a.m. and the kitchen was open until 3:00. That’s hospitality.

I actually headed back to the hotel a little early, which gave me a chance to tune in to coverage of the day’s major league contests.  Of particular interest was the Rockies/Phillies game and the performance of Colorado’s rookie outfielder David Dahl.

David Dahl – For the Record

I kept an eye on Rockies’ rookie left fielder David Dahl Friday evening. Thursday, Dahl hit in his 17th straight game (in what was just his 17th major league game) – tying the MLB record for the longest hitting streak to begin a career.

Dahl, who had a chance to claim the record (at 18 games) all to himself, went zero-for-four in the Rockies’ 10-6  loss to the Phillies on Friday – striking out three times. Ironically, one of the strikeouts helped a Phillies’ rookie tie another record. Dahl led off the second inning against Phillies’ starter Jake Thompson and fanned on a curveball in the dirt, a wild pitch that also eluded catcher Cameron Rupp. Dahl reached first on the WP; Rockies; RF Gerarado Parra followed with a single; and catcher Nick Hundley was safe on an error (scoring Dahl). Thompson then struck out 1B Ben Paulsen, SS Daniel Descalso and P Jon Gray – to notch an MLB record-tying four strikeouts in an inning.

But, back to Dahl.  The 22-year-old rookie collected 24 hits in 70 at bats (.358) during his streak – including one double, three triples and three home runs.  Over the 17 games, he drove in ten runs and scored 17. Dahl moved up from AA Hartford to AAA Albuquerque before his call up, hitting .314 with 18 home runs, 61 RBI and 17 steals in a combined 92 games. Dahl was selected – out of Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama – in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft (10th overall). He carried a .310 average with 47 home runs and 74 stolen bases over five minor league seasons (367 games).  .

Dahl tied the record of Chuck Aleno,  3B for the Reds, who was called up May 15 1941. During his 17-game streak, Aleno hit .389 (28 for 72), with two doubles, two triples, nine RBI and 12 runs scored.  Aleno finished the year at .289-1-18 in 54 games, the most he would ever play in an MLB season, When he was called up, the 24-year-old Aleno was in his fifth professional season and was hitting .348 (19 games) for the AA Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. Aleno played 17 seasons of professional ball, part of four in the majors. His MLB career line was .209-2-34 in 118 games.

It’s back on the bus tomorrow with, hopefully some game action, Memphis Redbirds, to report.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

The Name Game – Monikers I’d Like to See in the Big Leagues

WonderfulMajor League Baseball has seen some memorable names over time.  Recently, we’ve witnessed a hitter named Nick Swisher and a pitcher named Homer Bailey. In the past, we’ve also seen appropriately named hurlers like Bill Hands and Rollie Fingers; a catcher named Matt Batts; and a DH (recently, unfortunately, retired) named Prince Fielder. MLB lineups have also boasted the likes of Mike Colangelo (say it fast, an artful player); Carlos Santana (guitar optional); and Grant Balfour (not the count he is looking for). There are also names that are just unusual – Urban Shocker; William Van Winkle Wolf; and Boof Bonser (yes, John Bonser did, indeed, legally change his name to Boof.). Then, of course, there is one of my favorites –  Wonderful Terrific Monds III, who never played in the major leagues, but patrolled the outfield in the minors from 1993 to 1999.

In this post, BBRT would like to take a look at a lineup of names (drawn from current minor leaguers) that I would like to see on a major league scorecard someday.  I have limited myself to actual names – not nicknames – eliminating such contenders as Boomer Biegalski (Leon Mather Biegalski) and Rock Rucker (Orrin Christian Rucker.)

So, here’s BBRT’s All-Name Futures Lineup.

Catcher – Sicnarf Loopstok

Okay, we’ve had Nomar Garciaparra, whose first name was his father’s more common moniker (Ramon) spelled backwards.  Now there is Sicnarf Loopstok (his father’s name is Francis) – a 2013 13th Round MLB Draft pick of the Cleveland Indians (out of Western Oklahoma State College).  The name and the logic behind it belong in the big leagues. The 5’11”, 195-pound, 23-year-old native of Aruba is currently playing at High A Lynchburg (Carolina League). He was hitting .275-2-14 in 44 games as I wrote this.

Honorable Mention:  Raywilly Gomez, assigned by the Mets to Binghampton in the Eastern League. Raywilly – it just kind of rolls of the tongue.

First Base – Dash Willingham

A Mets’ 2014 draft pick (out of Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Florida), the 6’2”, 225-pound, 20-year-old is playing for the Columbia Fireflies (A level) in the South Atlantic League. At 224 pounds, I expect “Dash” maybe a misnomer. As I put this list together, Dash was hitting .237, with seven homers and 50 RBI in 102 games – no stolen bases.

Second Base – Joseph “Joey” Pankake

Yes, it is pronounced like the buttermilk breakfast offering – and that is enough to earn him the start at 2B.   The 6’2”, 185-pound, 23-year-old infielder was taken by the Tigers in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft after three years as a starter (SS-3B) for the University of South Carolina.  He is playing for the Lakeland Flying Tigers (High A) of the Florida State League and, after the first 95 games of the season, was hitting just .215 – but with 15 round trippers.

Honorable Mention:  Gonzalo Galastica, currently playing for the Dominican Summer League Orioles. Love the alliteration, and I’d give him the nickname “Battlestar.” This was really a close call.

3B – Trey Cabbage

This Twins’ prospect was drafted – out of Grainger High School, Rutledge, Tennessee – in 2015.  The 6’3”, 204-pound, 19-year-old plays for Appalachian League (Rookie level) Elizabethan Twins.  Vegetable names are always good, and I am a Twins fans.  Plus, it’s awfully close to a former Twins’ third-sacker; Mike Cubbage. After 20 games this season, Cabbage was hitting .266, with two home runs.

Shortstop – Yeyson Yrizarri

The 19-year-old Dominican is already in his third professional season – playing for the Rangers’ Hickory Crawdads (A Level) in the South Atlantic League.  Why here?  I like the YY initials and I want to listen to broadcasters trying to pronounce his name. As I developed this list, Yrizarri was hitting .266, with seven homers, 51 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 97 games.

Outfield – Skye Bolt, Forrestt Allday, Bo Way

Skye Bolt:  Drafted by the A’s in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft (out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), the 6’3”, 190-pound, 22-year-old is playing for the Midwest League Beloit Snappers (Class A) – and hoping to catch some lightening and ride that “bolt” to the Big Leagues.   He’s here to add a little electricity to the lineup. He joins this squad with a .244 average, three home runs, 30 RBI and eight steals in 78 games.

Forrestt Allday: Allday is a great for an everyday player, and there is the two-r, two-s, two-l spelling to add a little edge.  Allday (5’11”, 190-pounds) was taken by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The 25-year-old currently plays for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League, having been promoted from High A Inland Empire. He is hitting .281 (in 28 games) for the Travelers.

Bo Way: No Way you can leave Bo Way off this squad. Taken by the Angels in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, the 6’, 180-pound, 24-year-old outfielder – like Forrestt Allday – is on the roster of the AA Arkansas Travelers. In 108 games so far this season, Bo has hit his way to a .258 average, with one home run, 31 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

Starting Pitcher – Mark Hamburger

Mark Hamburger is the veteran of this team in that his name has already appeared on the back of a major league jersey.  In 2011, he went 1-0, 4.50 in five games (relief) for the Rangers.  Hamburger is currently a starter for the American Association (independent) Saint Paul Saints, where he has an 11-3 record, with a 2.79 ERA and six complete games. The 29-year-old (6’4”, 200-pound) right-hander is a veteran of 10 professional seasons.

Honorable Mention: Joan Baez (self-explanatory), a 21-year-old Dominican right-hander in the Nationals’ system, Baez is pitching for the Hagerstown Suns in the Class A South Atlantic League.  The 6’3”, 190-pound hurler has a record of 7-7, with a 4.42 ERA in 22 starts.

Closer – Christian Turnipseed

The reason his “name” is in this lineup is pretty obvious. Turnipseed was drafted late (28th Round) in the 2015 MLB Draft – out of Georgia Gwinnett College. The 5’11’, 214-pound, 24-year-old right-hander is pitching for the Delmarva Shorebirds of the Class A South Atlantic League – where (as of August 11) he has a 1-4, with 16 saves and a 3.74 ERA.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

Brandon Crawford, Seven Hits – How About Nine?

Brandon Crawford photo

Photo by SD Dirk

Giants’ SS Brandon Crawford yesterday (August 9, 2016) tied the National League record for base hits in a single game – going seven-for-eight as the Giants topped the Marlins (in Miami) 8-7 in 14 innings. Crawford’s seventh and final hit counted for more than a piece of the NL record, his single to center  in the top of the 14th inning drove in in what proved to be the winning run. Crawford’s seven hits included five singles, a double and a triple – and he scored once and drove in a pair of runs. His lone out was on a strikeout to end the fourth inning.  Overall, the Giants collected 18 hits in the contest. Crawford entered the game hitting .265 and raised his average to .278.  The 29-year-old Crawford, in his sixth MLB season, seemed an unlikely prospect to collect seven hits in a game – having never hit more than .256 in an MLB season before thus year. Note: Ironically, Crawford’s seven hits tied for the most in an NL game of any length, and set the record for an NL extra-inning game, the MLB record for hits in an extra inning contest is nine.

 Most Hits in a Major League Game

On July 10, 1932, Cleveland Indians’ shortstop Johnny Burnett came to the plate eleven times as the home-team Cleveland Indians lost to the Philadelphia Athletics 18-17 in 18 innings.  Burnett delivered an MLB single-game record nine hits that day – seven singles and two doubles. He also scored four runs and drove in two – in a game that, despite a total of 35 runs, 58 hits (33 by the Indians), 17 walks, and six errors (five by the Indians) – took only four hours and five minutes.

Here’s a look at Burnett’s record-setting game:

  • First inning – infield single, scores on a home run by CF Earl Averill.
  • Second inning – single to left field.
  • Fourth inning – single to left.
  • Fifth inning – double to right, driving in RF Dick Porter.
  • Seventh inning – single to right to lead off, strikeout to end the inning.
  • Ninth inning – single to right, driving in 3B Willie Kamm – tying the game at 15, sending it into extra innings.
  • Eleventh inning – double to right.
  • Thirteenth – single to center.
  • Sixteenth inning – single to right, eventually scores, tying the game at 17.
  • Seventeenth inning – fly out to center.

Burnett entered the game hitting .299 and raised his average to .323. He hit .297 for the season and had a career average of .284 over nine seasons. 

Another Record Set In This Game

Surprisingly, Athletics’ right-handed, knuckleball specialist Eddie Rommel, in his 13th (and what would prove to be final) major league season (at age 34) – a two-time 20+-game winner with 170 MLB victories – relieved starter Lew Krausse in the second inning and went the final 17, giving up 14 runs (13 earned) on 29 hits (eight of Burnett’s nine) and seven walks.  Despite the woeful performance, Rommel got the win, his 171st and final major league victory. The 29 hits allowed in the game remains an MLB record for a pitcher (game of any length, 26 hits is the record for a nine-inning game). Rommel, as fans may remember, went on to become a major league umpire after his playing and coaching days.

 

Other players with at least seven hits in a game:

Wilbert Robinson, catcher, Baltimore Orioles (NL) – June 10, 1892

Wilbert Robinson is one of only two players to collect seven hits in a nine-inning game – going seven-for-seven as Baltimore topped the Saint Louis Browns 25-4 in the first game of a doubleheader on June 10, 1882 (collecting 25 hits in the process). Robertson’s day included seven singles and a double – and a (since-broken) MLB-record 11 runs batted in.  Robertson had a 17-season MLB career (.273 career average). In 1892, Robertson hit .267 for the Orioles.

Rennie Stennett, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates – September 16, 1975

On September, 16, 1975, at Wrigley Field, 2B Rennie Stennett led off the Pirates’ game against the Cubs with a ringing double to right field, then scored on a single by number-two hitter, 3B Richie Hebner – a good start, but just a start.  Nine batters later, Stennett would collect his second hit of the game and the inning, a single this time, and later score his second run of the frame on a single by 1B Willie Stargell.  It was still just a start.  On that day – as the Pirates downed the Cubs 22-0 – Stennett would become just the second player to collect seven hits in a nine-inning contest. Stennett would go seven-for seven, with two doubles, a triple, five runs scored and two RBI – raising his average from .278 to .287. He would also have a second two-hit inning, again collecting a double and a single in the top of the fifth. Stennett would go on to hit .286 for the season – and would enjoy an eleven-season MLB career in which he hit .274.

Cesar Gutierrez, shortstop, Detroit Tigers – June 21, 1970

Tigers’ SS Cesar Guiterrez is the “forgotten man” among players with seven hits in a game. Gutierrez went seven-for-seven in a 12-inning contest between the Tigers and Indians (in Cleveland) on June 21, 1970 (second game of a double header). The Tigers won the game 9-8 on a home run by Mickey Stanley in the top of the twelfth inning. Along the way, each team collected 17 hits and Gutierrez rapped six singles and a double in seven at bats – scoring three runs and driving in one. Gutierrez was hitting .218 at the start of the game – .249 at its end. He finished the season, the best of his four-year MLB career, hitting .243, with no home runs, 22 RBI and 40 runs scored in 135 games (the only season in which he played at least 40  games).

Why is Gutierezz the forgotten man on the list of players with seven hits in a single game?  First, since he did not accomplish the feat in nine-inning contest, so he owns no share of that record.  Second, while seven hits would have given him the NL record for an extra-inning game, the AL record was set at nine hits by Johnny Burnett of the Indians in 1932.  So again, Gutierrez does not get a line in the record books.  His feat, however, will not be overlooked here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Scott Hatteberg – Instant Redemption from Triple Play to Grand Slam

HattebergOn this date 15 years ago (August 6, 2001), Boston Red Sox catcher Scott Hatteberg had a unique day at the office – one that earned his bat a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Red Sox were facing the Rangers that day and Hatteberg (catching and batting ninth) made four plate appearances.  In his first and last appearance, he did not put the ball in play (a swinging strikeout in the bottom of the second and a walk in bottom of the eighth).

In his middle two at bats, however, Hatteberg made history.  In the bottom of the fourth, he came up with runner and first and second and no one out and lined a 3-2 pitch to Rangers’ shortstop Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod turned the liner into a short-to-second (Randy Velarde) triple play.

Just two innings later, in his very next at bat, Hatteberg redeemed himself. Coming up with the bases loaded and no outs, he took a 2-1 pitch over the right-center field fence for a Grand Slam – becoming the first (and still only) player to hit into a triple play and hit a Grand Slam in the same game.  The Red Sox won the contest 10-7 – and the bat Hatteberg used to make history made its way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hatteberg was in his seventh season with the Red Sox at the time – and finished the campaign with a .245 average, just three home runs and 25 RBI.  He played in 14 MLB seasons – (Red Sox/A’s/Reds) and hit .273-106-527. Hatteberg was known for his ability to get on base (.361 lifetime on base percentage) – a reputation documented in the book and film Moneyball. He also played in 17 post-season games, hitting .286, with one home run and four RBI; which included a .500 average (7-for-14), with a home run, five runs scored, three RBI, three walks and zero strikeouts for Oakland in the 2002 ALDS.

For those who like to know such things, Hatteberg was drafted by the Boston Red Sox (sandwich pick) between the first and second rounds of the 1991 June MLB draft – after starring as a catcher for the Washington State Cougars. Hatteberg was also MVP of his high school baseball and basketball teams, as well as a football letterman and played for the United States in the 1990 Baseball World Cup.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

July MLB Wrap – Brewers Steal 38 Bags, Orioles 1 … And More

dayBBRT finished the month of July in appropriate fashion – at Target Field on a sunny Sunday afternoon (Vintage Bobblehead Day), watching the Twins top the White Sox 6-4 (behind a double and two home runs by Brian Dozier and six solid innings from starter Ervin Santana).  BBRT Note:  Ervin Santana was born Johan Ramon Santana – a named he used until 2003 (when he was a minor leaguer in the Angels system). At that time, he decided he would change to Ervin avoid confusion with Twins’ pitcher Johan Alexander Santana.  The next year, the other Johan Santana – with the Twins – won his first of two Cy Young Awards. 

The Sunday outing put me in the proper mood to spend the evening and this a.m. working on the traditional monthly update – but this month will be a little different. I thought I’d start by commenting briefly on  my day at the ball park – complete with background music  – to set the mood.

The game wasn’t the most cleanly played, with the Twins prevailing despite four errors. However, three home runs (two by DH Dozier and one by 1B Kennys Vargas) were enough to carry the day. Between them, Dozier and Vargas went five-for-six, with a double and three home runs, two walks, five runs scored and five RBI.  Home team fans went home happy.

Couple perfect weather, a victory, hot dogs, cold beer, bobbleheads, an accurate scorecard, mu daughter at the park with me, and live music from the rock “supergroup” The Baseball Project – which has released three albums of baseball themed rock – and it was (as usual) a great day at the ballpark.   Here’s a sample of the band’s work – rock ‘n roll and baseball, a great combination. You might want to check out their albums/CD’s – Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails; Volume 2; High and Inside; and 3rd.

 

Now, let’s get to BBRT’s traditional monthly wrap up – odd occurrences, off-the-wall observations, awards and, of course, stats (plenty of stats).  July 2016 was, as  usual, a month with plenty to see.  For example, fans witnessed:

  • The Saint Louis Cardinals optimizing their bench – putting up an MLB-best pinch-hit batting average of .351 (53 hits in 151 pinch-hit at bats).
  • The  Brewers stealing 38 bases over the course of thje month … while the Orioles stole ONE.
  • Nine of the top ten bases stealers for the month coming from the NL – and the only AL player to crack the top ten (Twins’ SS Eduardo Nunez) going to the NL (traded to the Giants).
  • The often offense-deprived Padres tying an NL record by homering in 25 consecutive games – with the leading contributor being 27-year-old rookie infielder Ryan Schimpf – who made his MLB debut in mid-June – and whose nine July home runs tied for most in MLB.  Schimpf, by the way, had hit .355, with 15 homers in 51 games at AAA El Paso before his call up. 
  • Reds’ 1B Joey Votto hitting .413 for the month – the only .400-hitter among players with at least 100 plate appearances.
  • The Angels’ Hector Santiago starting six games and going 6-0, 1.78 … and then being traded to the Twins just before the deadline.
  • The White Sox tying the MLB record for triples play in a season (three) – with plenty of season left to top that mark.
  • The Dodgers issuing 11 intentional walks … The Royals ZERO.

More on these events and others coming up.  We’ll leadoff, however, with BBRT’s July recognitions.

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE MONTHLY HONORS

AL Player of the Month:  Albert Pujols DH, Angels

Pujols delivered a solid month of  July – .297-6-31.  He was, in fact, the only player to deliver 30 RBI for the month (no one else drove in more than 23.)  Pujols’ nearest competition for AL honors came from Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve – who continues to lead the AL in batting average after a .354-5-16 July.  Can’t ignore those RBI, however. Pujols drove in 31 in just 26 games.

NL Player of the Month – Tie: Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals/Trevor Story, SS, Rockies

Murphy continues to march toward the NL batting title – turning in a .346 July average (fourth  among National Leaguers with at least 50 plate appearances for the month).  The Nationals’ second-sacker also led the NL in RBI for July with 23, hit a league-leading 11 doubles and launched six round trippers. Right there with Murphy was Rockies’ rookie SS Trevor Story.  Story hit .288 for July, drove in 22 runs (second-best in the NL), rapped eight home runs (also the NL’s second-best total) and tied for the lead in runs scored (20).

AL Pitcher of the Month – Hector Santiago, LHP, Angels

In July, the Angels went 6-0 in games started by Hector Santiago and 9-11 in the games he didn’t start. The simple fact is, Santiago started six games for the Angels in July – and delivered six victories (MLB’s only six-game winner for the month) and a 1.78 ERA. Santiago pitched 35 1/3 innings, striking out 34 batters and giving up just 26 hits.  The kink in his armor may be the 21 walks.  He is the AL pitcher of the month for going a perfect six-for-six.  (Getting traded to the Twins didn’t hurt his BBRT standing either.

NL Pitcher of the Month – Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals

Strasburg started five games for the Nationals in July and put up a 4-1 record with a 2.08 ERA. Only Anthony DeSclafani of the Reds matched his win total (4-0, but with a 3.82 ERA). Strasburg also fanned 37 batters (fifth-highest in the NL) in 34 2/3 innings.

AL Team of the Month – Toronto Blue Jays

Easy call here, the Blue Jays had baseball’s best July record at 16-8. In the process, they reorded the AL’s best team ERA at 3.37, and scored the AL’s fourth-most runs.  For the month, the Blue Jays outscored their opponents 135-89. Leading the way on offense for Toronto were: 3B Josh Donaldson (.316-6-21 for the month); SS Troy Tulowitzki (.308-6-21); and DH Edwin Encarnacion (.284-7-19). On the mound, J.A. Happ went 4-0, 1.44, Aaron Sanchez went 3-0, 1.59 and Jason Grilli delivered three wins (versus one loss) and four holds in ten appearances (1.80 ERA).

NL Team of the Month – Saint Louis Cardinals

This was a close call among the Cardinals (16-11 in July); Marlins (16-10); and the Dodgers (15-9).  The edge went to the Cardinals for their ability to overcome injuries to such key players such as Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Moss, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal. Despite these setbacks, the Redbirds led the NL in runs scored for the month (127). Key contributors were SS Aledmys Diaz, who  hit.299, with four homers and 17 RBI; RF Stephen Piscotty, with a .277-5-19 line; and  2B Jedd Gyorko (.301 average, with 7 HRs and 14 RBI).  The p;itching was less effective, giving up the sixth most runs in the NL.  Still, Adam Wainwright went 3-0, 1.77; Carlos Martinez provided three wins (one loss) and a 3.48 ERA; and Seung Hwan Oh saved seven games. Notably, the Cardinals also made the most of their bench.  In July, Redbird pinch hitters went 53-for-151, for a .351 average.

For the month, four teams – two in each league – picked up 16 wins.  The Blue Jays (16-8) and Tigers (16-10) in the AL;  and the Marlins (16-10) and the Cardinals (16-11) in the AL. Only three teams won less than ten games during July: the Royals (7-19); D-backs (7-17) and Rays (9-16). Notably, the D-backs and Royals (tied for the least wins) were two of three teams with ERA’s over 5.00 for the month.

On the season, the Cubs (despite a sub-.500 July) are the only team with a winning percentage of .600 or better (.63-41, .606), while Braves (.37-68, .352) and Twins (40-64, .385) are the only teams under .400 as of July 31.

IF THE SEASON ENDED, JULY 31

American League

Division Leaders: Indians, Orioles, Rangers.  Wild Cards: Blue Jays; Red Sox.

The tightest Al race is in the East, where the Orioles, Blue Jays and Red Sox are separated by just 1 ½ games. Detroit, after a 16-10 July, is only a game behind Boston in the wild Card race.

National League

Division Leaders: Nationals. Cubs, Giants.  Wild Cards: Dodgers, Malrins.

The West is the closest NL Division, with the Giants holding a 2-game lead over the Dodgers. The Cardinals – after posting the NL’s best July record – are just a game behind in the Wild card race, but still 7 ½  behind the Cubs in the Central Dicvision. 

FULL MLB STANDINGS – AND JULY WON-LOST  RECORDS ARE PROVIDED AT THE END OF THIS POST.

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STATS ROUND ONE

Before commenting on some of the month’s unusual happenings, let’s look at the team and individual stat leaders FOR THE MONTH of July. 

 

— TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR JULY  —

BATTING AVERAGE

AL … Angels – .292; Red Sox – .291; Twins – .269

NL … Dodgers – .277;  Marlins – .277; Dodgers – .271; Reds – .258

RUNS SCORED

AL … Angels – 152; Twins – 144; Red Sox – 140

NL … Cardinals – 127; Dodgers – 126; Marlins – 120

No one scored fewer runs in July than the Royals (86), who also hit an MLB-low .226 for the month. Over in the NL, The Giants scored the fewest runs with 90. Only three teams scored fewer than 90 runs in July and, despite the DH, all were in the AL (Royals, White Sox, Orioles).

HOME RUNS

AL … Red Sox 40; Rangers 39; Tigers – 35

NL … Padres – 40; Cardinals – 37; Mets – 35

STOLEN BASES

AL … Twins – 19; Astros – 15; Royals – 14

NL … Brewers – 38; Nationals – 28; Padres -27; Reds -27

The Orioles stole only one base in July (in two attempts). In the NL, the Cardinals had the fewest steals at 8.

— TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR JULY —

ERA

AL … Blue Jays – 3.37; Tigers – 3.52; Yankees – 3.60

NL  … Nationals – 3.01; Brewers – 3.18; Marlins – 3.29

Three teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for the month: D-backs – 5.83; Rangers – 5.52; Royals – 5.27.

STRIKEOUTS

AL … Astros – 229; Yankees – 219; Blue Jays – 215

NL … Dodgers – 253; Cubs – 228; ; Mets – 228; Marlins – 228

SAVES

AL … Orioles – 9; Tigers 9; four with 8

NL … Pirates 10-; Mets – 10; four  with 8

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Now,  how about a look at the individual leaders for the month.

 — INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF JULY —

BATTING AVERAGE – MINIMUM 100 PLATE APPEARANCES

AL … Andrelton Simmons, SS, Angels – .375; Mookie Betts, RF, Red Sox – .368;  Jose Altuve, 2B, Astos – .354

NL …, Joey Votto, 1B, Reds – .413; Martin Prado, 3B, Marlins – .351; Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers – .347

HOME RUNS 

AL … Mike Napoli, 1B, Indians – 8; Max Kepler, RF, Twins – 8; six with 7

NL … Ryan Schimpf, 2B, Padres – 9; Jay Bruce.RF, Reds – 9; Yasmani Grandal, C, Dodgers – 8; Trevor Story, SS, Rockies – 8

RBI

AL … Albert Pujols, DH, Angels – 31; Max Kepler, RF, Twins – 23; David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox – 22

NL … Daniel Murphy, 2B, Nationals – 23; Trevor Story, SS, Rockies – 22; Addisson Russell, SS, Cubs – 22

RUNS SCORED

AL … Mike Trout, CF, Angels – 26; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays – 21; Jason  Kipnis, 2B, Indians  21

NL … Joey Votto,1B, Reds – 20; Trevor Story, SS, Rockies – 20; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 20

STOLEN BASES

AL … Eduardo Nunez, SS, Twins – 10 (now with Giants); Mike Trout, CF, Angels – 6; Two with five

NL … Billy Hamilton, CF, Reds – 16; Starling Marte, LF Pirates – 15; JonathanVillar, SS, Brewers – 12

The lowest July batting average, minimum 100 plate appearance, was turned in by the Orioles’ Chris Davis (.153/13-for-85). The most strikeouts for the month went to the Twins’ Miguel San0, with 39 in 95 at bats. 

—PITCHING LEADERS FOR JULY—

ERA – MINIMUM 20 INNINGS PITCHED

AL  J.A. Happ, Blue Jays – 1.44; Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays – 1.59; Justin Verlander, Tigers – 1.69

NL … Kyle Hendriks, Cubs – 1.07; Max Scherzer, nationals – 1.32; Junoir Guerra, Brewers – 1.59

WINS

AL … Hector Santiago, Angels – 6-0, 1.78; Rick Porcello, Red sox – 5-0, 2.57; Justin Verlander, Tigers – 4-0, 1.69

NL … Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – 4-1, 2.08; Anthony Desclafani, Reds – 4-0, 3.82

STRIKEOUTS

AL … Justin Verlander, Tigers – 48 (42 2/3 IP); Lance McCullers, Astros – 44 (30 1/3 IP); J.A. Happ, Blue Jays – 42 (31 1.3 IP)

NL … Jose Fernandez, Marlins – 46 (32 IP); Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 44 (36 IP); Robbie Ray, D-backs – 43 (28 2/3 IP)

SAVES

AL … Zach Britton, Orioles – 9; three with 7

NL … Jeurys Familia, Mets – 10; Mark Melancon, Pirates – 8; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 8

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IT HAPPENED THAT WAY – SOMWE JULY HIGHLIGHTS

 

Fourth of July Fireworks – A Day Early

Yankee 1B Mark Teixeira lit up the sky in the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Padres on July 3 – swatting his sixth and seventh home runs of the season. They were also Teixeira’s 400th  and 401st round trippers, making him one of just five switch-hitters to reach 400 long balls: Mickey Mantle-536; Eddie Murray-504; Chipper Jone-468; Carlos Beltran – 413, still active.

When Two Just Won’t Do

On July 8, the Chicago White Sox turned their record-tying third triple play of the 2016 season (in an 11-8 home loss to the Braves).   Lots of time left for the White Sox to break a multi-team tie and stand alone with four triple-killings in a season. This one was scored 6-3 – and gives Chicago an unusual scoring trifecta.  Their first triple play of the season went 9-3-2-6-1-4, while the second was scored 5-4-3. This does appear to be the year for rally-squashing triple killings. There have already been five: three by the White Sox and one each by the Brewers and Nationals.

Old Guys Rule

Carlos Beltran photo

Photo by Keith Allison

When you’re my age, you just haver to root for the “veteran” players.  Well, 39-year-old Carlos Beltran of the Yankees  (like Big Papi in Boston) is giving us old guys plenty to root for. On July 15, Beltran drove in his 57th and 58th runs of the season, becoming only the fourth switch hitter in MLB history to reach 1,500 RBI (Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones.) Earlier in the season, Beltran joined another elite switch-hitter club, becoming one of four switch hitters to reach 400 home runs (Mantle, Murray, Jones) – a group since joined by fellow Yankee  Mark Teixeira.   Through July, Beltran is hitting .304-22-64.  Beltran was dealt to the Rangers before the trading deadline.

Can’t Win ‘Em All, But You Can Try

Steven Strasburg was looking pretty unbeatable when he took the mound against the Dodgers (in Washington) on July 21.  After all, he was 13-0, 2.51 on the season – and hadn’t picked up a loss since September 9, 2015 – through a total of 21 starts and 16 victories.  The Dodgers’ Justin Turner put an end to that streak, reaching Strasburg for two home runs as LA handed him the loss in a 6-3 contest.

Take ‘Em Deep

On July 21, the Rockies sent Mark Reynolds up to pinch hit for reliever Adam Ottavino to lead off the seventh inning (with Colorado up 3-1).  Reynolds delivered with his tenth home run of the season – a 484-foot blast to left-center, the second-longest dinger of the year (according to both Statcast and ESPN Home Run Tracker).  Here are this year’s three longest home runs according to those two stats agencies.

STATCAST

  1. Nomar Mazara – Rangers – 491 feet (May 25)
  2. Mark Reynolds – Rockies – 484 feet (July 21)
  3. Giancarlo Stanton – Malrins – 475 feet ((May 6, 2016)

ESPN HR Tracker

  1. Giancarlo Stanton – Marlins – 490 feet (May 6, 2016)
  2. Mark Reynolds – Rockies – 486 feet (July 21)
  3. Carlos Gonzales – Rockies – 475 feet (July 10)

The Story Continues

On July 23, Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story launched two home runs in an 8-4 win over the Braves at Coors Field. In the process, he tied and then broke the NL record for home runs by a rookie shortstop – previously set at 24 by Troy Tulowitzki, while with the Rockies in 2007. Story ended July .272-27-72.

Life Begins at “30”

The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo, on July 23, became the first player to reach 30 home runs in the 2016 season. It marked Trumbo’s third 30-home campaign in seven MLB seasons – and he is well on his way to topping his career high mark of 34 (for the 2013 Angels). The Orioles acquired Trumbo from the Mariners in an off-season trade – and he began paying almost immediate dividends. On April 15, for example, he became the first Oriole to hit two home runs in the same inning. In his seven MLB seasons, the 1B/OF/DH has played for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Mariners and Orioles. 

 Home Run  Happy Padres

On July 27, the Padres homered in their 25th consecutive game, tying the NL mark and coming within two of the 2002 Rangers’ record. (After an off day, the streak ended on July 29, as the Reds shut out the Padres 6-0.)   San Diego’s power surge would have flamed out before reaching the NL record without Rookie LF Alex Dickerson’s bat.  Dickerson launched San Diego’s only home runs in game 22, 23 and 24 (and one of three Padres’ round trippers in game 25) – which also made him just the first Padres’ rookie to go deep in four straight contests.  Dickerson, who ended July hitting .286-6-17 on the season (32 games) – and has a .309 average over six minor league campaigns – is looking like the real deal in the Padres’ OF.  The Padres, by the way, went 11-14 in their 25-game HR streak; during which they went deep 42 times. Another San Diego rookie, 2B Ryan Schimpf, contributed nine long balls – the most in MLB in July.

Round and Round We Go

On July 30, the Phillies has a truly “wild” eighth inning – sending all nine batters to the plate, without collecting a single base hit, breaking open a 5-3 game (Phillies leading the Braves in Atlanta).  It went like this: PH Tyler Goeddel walked; SS Freddy Galvis attempted a sacrifice, but Goeddel was forced and second and Galvis reached on the fielder’s choice; PH Taylor Featherstone walked; there was a double steal, moving Galvis and Featherstone to second and third; 2B Cesar Hernandez was intentionally walked (loading the bases); CF Odubel Herrera walked, forcing in Galvis; 3B Maikel Franco was safe on an error by Braves’ 3B Adonis Garcia (scoring Featherstone and Hernandez); 1B Ryan Howard was safe on an error by Braves’ SS Erick Aybar  (again loading the bases); RF Aaron Altherr was hit by a pitch, forcing in Herrera; and, finally, catcher Cameron Rupp hit  into a double  play. Damage: Four runs on zero hits, four walks, a hit batsman and two errors.

Strangest inning ever?  Nope.  On April 22, 1959, the White Sox scored 11 runs in an inning, while collecting only one base it (a single).  You can get all the details here, but how about a spoiler? The White Sox’ Nellie Fox drew two bases-loaded walks in the inning.

 A Pinch-Hit, Walk-off Walk

On July 29, the Twins and White Sox engaged in a tight pitching duel at Target Field. In fact, in the bottom of the twelfth inning the score was knotted at 1-1 –  and the two teams had produced only 14 hits.  It was fitting, in a way, that the winning run would score without the benefit of a hit – and the winning RBI would come on a pinch-hit walk.  It went like this.  Twins’ pinch hitter Eddie Rosario led off and was hit by a pitch. Catcher Juan Centeno sacrificed him to second. CF Byron Buxton walked – putting runners on first and second. Second baseman Brian Dozier walked – loading the bases. Joe Mauer came on to pinch hit and drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch, forcing in the winning run. A true “walk-off” win.

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— YEAR-TO-DATE STATS  THROUGH JULY 31 — 

INDIVIDUAL BATTINGLEADERS

BATTING AVERAGE

AL … Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros – .356; Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox – .329; Yunel Escorbar, 3B, Angels – .322

NL … Daniel Murphy, 2b, Nationals – .350; Wilson Ramos, C, Nationals – .327; Martin Prado, 3B, Marlins – .324

HOME RUNS

AL … Mark Trumbo, RF,Orioles – 30; Todd Frazier, 3B/1B, White Sox – 29; Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 28

NL … Trevor Story, SS, Rockies – 27; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 26; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 26

RBI

AL … Edwin Encarnacion,DH, Blue Jays – 89; David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox – 85; Albert Pujols, DH, Angels – 81

NL … Jay Bruce, RF, Reds – 80; Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs – 79; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 79

RUNS SCORED

AL … Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays – 87; Ian Kinsler, 2B, Tigers – 84; two with 82

NL … Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 82; Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies – 71; two with 68

STOLEN BASES

AL … Eduardo Nunez, SS, Twins – 27  (now  with Giants); Jose Altuve, 2B Astros – 25; Rajai Davis, CF, Indians – 25

NL … Jonathan Villar, SS, Brewers – 38; Starling Marte, LF, Pirates – 36; Billy Hamilton, CF- Reds – 35

WALKS DRAWN

AL – Mike Trout, CF, Angels – 71; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jayrs – 70; Carlos Santana, DH, Indians – 59

NL … Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals – 80; Joey Votto, 1B, Reds – 77; Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-backs – 72

No player has struck out more often throgh July 31 than Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis, who leads the AL with 144 whiffs. Anothr 1B named Chris, Chris Carter of the Brewers, tops the NL with 136 whiffs. Notably, the two have put up similar numbers in average (Davis – .222/Carter – .217); home runs (Davis – 22/Carter 24); and RBI (both 59).

 

— INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH JULY– 

WINS

AL … Rick Porcello, Red Sox – 14-2, 3.47;  Chris Tillman, Orioles – 14-3, 3.46; J.A. Happ, Blue Jays – 14-3, 3.16; Chris Sale, White Sox -14-4, 3.17

NL … Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – 14-1, 2.68; Johnny Cueto, Giants – 13-3, 2.63; Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 12-5, 2.75; Jose Fernandez, Marlins -12-5, 2.79

ERA

AL … Aaron Sanchez, Toronto – 2.71; Cole Hamels, Rangers – 2.84; Joe Quintana, White Sox – 2.89

NL … Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 1.79; Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 2.09; Kyle Hendriks, Cubs – 2.39

STRIKEOUTS

AL … Justin  Verlander, Tigers – 155; Chris Archer, Rays – 155; David Price, Red Sox – 151

NL … Max Scherzer, Nationals – 187; Joe Fernandez, Marlins – 184; Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 170

SAVES

AL ... Zach Britton, Orioles – 32; Francisco Rodriguez, Tigers – 29; three with 25

NL … Jeurys Familia, Mets – 37; A.J. Ramos – Marlins – 31; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 31

Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched, the A’s Sonny Gray has the highest ERA at 5.84. In the NL, it is the Giants Jake Peavy at 5.47.

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— FINALLY, TEAM STATS THRUGH JULY —

BATTING AVERAGE

AL … Red Sox – .287; Angels – .269; Tigers – .267

NL … Marlins – .272; Rockies – 269; D-backs – .263

RUNS SCORED

AL… Red Sox – 574; Blue Jays – 518; Indians & Rangers – 505

NL … Rockies – 536; Cardinals – 533; Cubs – 529

The Braves have scored the fewest runs in MLB (360), while the lowest total in the AL belongs to the Royals at 404.

HOME RUNS

AL … Orioles – 154; Blue Jays – 149; Mariners – 146

NL … Cardinals – 143; Nationals – 139; Mets – 133

STOLEN BASES

AL … Astros – 78; Indians – 72; Twins – 70

NL … Brewers – 105; Padres – 87; Reds – 83

The Orioles have swiped the fewest bags (13), while the Cardinal trail the rest of the NL with 26.

— PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH JULY–

ERA

AL …  Indians – 3.59; Blue Jays – 3.83; Astros – 3.88

NL … Nationals –  3.25; Cubs –  3.25; Mets – 3.35

The worst team ERA in MLB belongs to the Reds at 5.16 (the only team over 5.00), while the Twins have the worse ERA in the AL at 4.82.

STRIKEOUTS

AL … Yankees – 908; Astros – 881; Indians – 872

NL … Dodgers – 997; Nationals – 982; Cubs – 923

SAVES

AL … Orioles – 36; Rangers – 36; Tigers – 32

NL … Mets – 38; Marlins – 37; Pirates – 34

The White Sox lead MLB with 20 blown saves, followed by the Giants with 18. The Reds, however, have the worse save percentage (51.4%), earning 18 saves and  accumulating 17 blown saves.

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MLB Standings as of July 31 p.m.  (July records in parenthesis)

                          W-L     PCT    GB    (July W-L)

AL EAST

Orioles             59-45     .567     …         (12-14)

Blue Jays         59-46     .562      0.5       (16-8)

Red Sox           57-46     .553      1.5        (15-10)

Yankees           52-52     .500      7.0       (13-13)

Rays                42-61     .408     16.5       (9-16)

AL CENTRAL

Indians             60-42     .567     …          (12-12)

Tigers               57-48     .562      4.5        (16-10)

White Sox         51-54     .480     10.5        (11-15)

Royals              49-55     .471     12.0        (7-19)

Twins                40-64     .385     21.0       (15-11)

AL WEST

Rangers             62-44     .585     …           (11-15)

Astros                55-49     .529      6.0         (13-12)

Mariners             52-51     .505      8.5         (12-12)

Angels                47-58     .448     14.5        (15-11)

A’s                     47-58     .448     14.5         (12-14)

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NL EAST

Nationals             61-44      .581      …          (13-12)

Marlins                57-48     .543      4.0          (16-10)

Mets                    54-50     .519      6.5         (12-13)

Phillies                 48-59     .449     14.0        (13-13)

Braves                 37-68     .352     24.0         (10-16)

NL CENTRAL

Cubs                      63-41     .606     …           (12-14)

Cardinals                56-49     .533      7.5         (16-11)

Pirates                    52-51     .505     10.5       (14-10)

Brewers                   47-56     .456     15.5       (12-13)

Reds                       42-62     .404     21.0        (13-11)

NL WEST

Giants                      61-44     .581     …           (11-13)

Dodgers                   59-46     .562      2.0         (15-9)

Rockies                   52-53     .495      9.0         (15-12)

Padres                     45-60     .429     16.0         (12-14)

D-backs                   43-62     .410     18.0          (7-17)

 

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

Pat Dobson – Exclamation Point on a Month of Mound Mastery

DobsonBaseball Roundtable declares July 31, 2016 Pat Dobson Day – at least on this blog site – and for good reason. Forty-five years ago today (July 31, 1971), the Orioles’ right-hander pitched a complete-game, five-hit shutout (no walks – six strikeouts), besting the Royals 4-0 in Baltimore. Dobson’s performance put an exclamation point on a month the likes of which we are not likely to see again.  Here are a few tidbits about the game, the season and the month.  That July 31 win was:

  • Dobson’s fifteenth win of 1971 – running his record to 15-4.
  • Dobson’s eighth win in July – a month in which he went 8-0, with a 2.65 ERA.
  • Dobson’s eighth complete game in July. That’s right, eight starts, eight complete games – 72 innings and just 46 hits and 12 walks. Note: It was also his third shutout of the month.
  • Dobson’s ninth consecutive complete game – dating back to June 29 – nine complete games in 33 days.
  • Dobson’s twelfth consecutive win – on his way to a 20-victory season.

Oh, and Dobson went one-for-three with an RBI in the game.  (More of #WhyIHateTheDH.)

Dobson, by the way, finished the 1971 season 20-8, with a 2.90 ERA – throwing 18 complete games in 37 starts (one relief appearance).  Surprisingly, he wasn’t an All Star and was not even the ace of the Baltimore staff. That season, the Orioles had an MLB record FOUR  twenty game winners: Jim Palmer (20-9, 2.68); Dave McNally (21-5, 2.89); Mike Cueller (20-9, 3.08); and Dobson. The four started 142 of the team’s 158 games – and finished 70 of them. Note:  The only other team with four twenty-game winners was the 1920 Chicago White Sox.

Dobson finished his 11-season MLB career (Tigers, Padres, Orioles, Braves, Yankees, Indians) with a 122-129 record and a 3.53 ERA. He was an All Star just once.  That (ironically) was in 1972, when he led the AL in losses with 18 (against 16 victories) despite a 2.65 ERA.   After his playing days, Dobson served as an MLB pitching coach, scout and front office executive, as well as a minor league manager.  He died in 2006 (age 64) of leukemia.

July 31, 1971 – when Pat Dobson put an exclamation point on a month of mound mastery.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

 

Happy Anniversary Big Mac – Let’s Take Three

Big Mac - Two triples in his first MLB game.

Big Mac – Two triples in his first MLB game.

Happy Anniversary Willie McCovey!  Today is the anniversary of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey’s major league debut (July 30, 1959) – a game in which the big first baseman became just the third player to hit two triples in his first-ever MLB game. One player has joined that list since McCovey’s big day – and BBRT would like to use this post to look at the unique stories surrounding each of those four players, starting with McCovey.

Willie McCovey – Fewest Games Played of Any Position Player Winning ROY

McCovey is the only Hall of Famer on this list (and the only one with a cove named after him) – and he showed his HOF potential in his very first MLB game (July 30, 1959). In the Giants 7-2 win over the Phillies in San Francisco, the rookie 1B batted third, went four-for-four with two singles and two triples (in the fourth and seventh innings). Big Mac scored three runs scored and drove in two.  (Not bad for the first day on the job, and the hits all came off future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.)

Of course, few in the Giants’ dugout were surprised, the 21-year-old McCovey had a .372-29-92 line in 95 games at AAA when called up.   McCovey’s hot start contributed to a rookie season that included a .354 average, 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 52 games. That earned him the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year Award and made him the position player with the fewest games played ever in a ROY season.  McCovey’s story is the most powerful on the list of players who opened their MLB careers with a two-triple game.  He is the only Hall of Famer, only Rookie of the Year, only league MVP (1969) and only member of the 500-home run club.  His final MLB line: 22 seasons, .270 average, 521 home runs, 1,555 RBI.

Triple Trivia

Lance Johnson holds the record for consecutive seasons leading his league in triples (four); 1991-1994 – all for the Chicago White Sox. In 1996, Johnson – then with the Mets – led the NL in triples with 21.  His five seasons leading his league in triples is one shy of Sam Crawford’s record. Crawford led the AL in triples five times while with the Tigers (1903, 1910, 1913, 1914, 1915) and the NL once (1902) with the Reds. Crawford holds the career triples record at 309.

Ed Irwin – Two Triples and Out for this One Game Wonder

The first player to strike a pair of triples (strike is a key word here) in his MLB debut was Detroit Tigers’ 3B Ed Irwin – a 30-year-old rookie who played his first MLB game on May 18, 1912.  A few facts that make Irwin’s story unique: 1) His first MLB game was also his last; 2) His two triples were his only MLB hits; 3) He was on the field as a result of MLB’s first-ever player strike.

The story really started on May 15, 1912, when Tigers’ CF Ty Cobb went into the stands in New York and pummeled a (one-handed) fan who had been heckling him.  This earned Cobb an indefinite suspension by AL President Ban Johnson (appropriate first name in this situation) – and led his teammates to go on strike (announced May 17) in his support. On May 18, the Tigers showed up for a game against the Athletics at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. When told Ban’s ban would be enforced and Cobb could not play, the Tigers’ squad went back to the clubhouse. In their place, Detroit fielded a lineup made up of semi-pro and amateur ballplayers (all signed to one-day MLB contracts) – along with two of the Tigers’ coaches (Deacon McGuire and Joe Sugden, both in their forties).  This hastily assembled bunch included the 30-year-old Irwin, who at least had some minor league experience (Class D and C).  The Athletics, ultimately won the contest 24-2.  The Tigers’ replacement squad got only four hits – one each by coaches Sugden (at 1b) and McGuire (at C) and two triples in three at bats by Irwin.  As an aside, the Tigers’ starting pitcher Al Travers reportedly earned a $50 bonus for pitching a complete game – a nifty 24 hitter.  Note:  Ban Johnson canceled the Tiger next game (May 19) and that if Detroit didn’t field a competitive team all the players would be automatically suspended and fined. The players returned to the field (making it a one-game strike and ending Irwin’s MLB career) and Cobb was reinstated on May 26.

Triple Trivia

Eleven major league players have hit two triples in one inning – the most recent being the Rockies’ Cory Sullivan, in the fifth inning of a Colorado 10-4 win over the Padres in San Diego on April 9, 2006. Sullivan, playing CF and batting leadoff, tripled to open the inning (and later scored), then tripled again with none on and two out as the Rockies scored seven times in the frame. Sullivan also had a double in game.

Roy Weatherly – Storming Out of the Gate

The second player to notch two triples in his first-ever MLB game was Roy Weatherly, who made his debut in right field with the Indians on June 27, 1936. Like McCovey, he got off to a pretty good start. As the Indians topped the Red Sox 14-5 in Cleveland, the 5’6”, 170-pound Weatherly – with the nickname “Stormy” – went three-for-five with a single and two triples, one run scored and four RBI. Weatherly went on to hit .335-8-53 in 84 games in his rookie season. He played in ten MLB seasons (Indians, Yankees, Giants) – missing two complete campaigns serving in WW II – and ended up with a .286-43-290 line.  Weatherly hit more triples (44) in his MLB career than home runs (43); while in 14 minor league seasons his homers outnumbered his triples 108 to 51.

Triple Trivia

The Chicago White Stockings hit a record five triples in one inning (the eighth), while defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4 in the second game of a double heads on September 15, 1901. The White Stockings had a sixth triple in the game, giving them a share of the MLB record for triples in a single game as well.

John Sipin – Started with Triples … Starred in Japan

John Sipin made his major league debut for the San Diego Padres on May 24, 1969.  The 22-year-old second baseman batted second and went two-for-four (tripling in each of his first two at bats), as the Padres lost to the Cubs 7-5 in San Diego.  Sipin would play in 68 games for the Padres in 1969, hitting .223 with two triples, two home runs, 22 runs scored, nine RBI and two stolen bases. It was his only major league season – so those two debut-game triples were his only career three-baggers.

In 1970, Sipin was back at Triple A, where he hit .301, with 20 home runs in 135 games. He followed that with a .318-20-77 season at AAA in 1971.  The call to the majors didn’t come, however, and Sipin went on to make a name for himself in Japan – where he played from 1972-1980. Sipin hit .297 in nine season in Japan, with 218 home runs and 625 RBI – and was the first foreign player to win a Japanese Gold Glove Award (1972 and 1973).  Sipin hit over .300 five times and topped 20 home runs seven times (a high of 34 in 1975) in Japan.

I tweet baseball  @DavidBBRT

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

Hall of Fame – Today’s Honorees and a Look Ahead

Photo by apardavila

Photo by apardavila

Today, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – and, as expected, much was made of their respective places at the farthest ends of the MLB draft spectrum. Let’s get that “trending” fact out of the way right off the bat. Griffey is the earliest draft pick – in fact, the first-ever “first overall” pick (1987) elected to the HOF  – while Piazza is the latest draft pick ever elected (the 1,390th player picked in the 1988 draft).  BBRT did comment on Griffey and Piazza at that time of their election (January), and today seems like an appropriate day to again look back on the careers that earned them their spots in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. (I’ll also look ahead, briefly, at some of the 2017 “favorites.” ) Today, baseball honored a fleet centerfielder with an MLB pedigree and a grinding backstop, who got little love in the draft –  a pair who, ultimately, were selected to a combined 25 All Star teams.

As long as I have fun playing, the stats will take care of themselves.

                                                                                       Ken Griffey, Jr.

The stats did, indeed, take care of themselves for Ken Griffey, Jr.  – even after he retired.  Not only was Griffey the “first-ever, first overall” draft pick elected to the Hall, he was a first-ballot electee and was named on an all-time record 99.3 percent of the ballots.

Griffey was considered a potential star right from the start – thanks to his sweet swing and baseball genes.  Young Ken – actually George Kenneth Griffey, Jr. – was the son Ken Griffey, Sr.; a three-time All Star outfielder who was still active in 1989 (in his 17th of 19 Major League seasons), when Griffey, Jr.  made his MLB debut at age 19.

“The Kid” (also known as “The Natural”) went on to play 22 seasons (1989-2010 … Mariners, Reds and White Sox), putting up some undeniably Hall of Fame numbers.  His 2,781 hits earned him a .284 lifetime average and his 630 home runs are sixth all time.  Griffey also collected 1,836 RBI; ten Gold Gloves; 13 All Star selections; and an AL MVP Award (1997). He led his league in home runs four times (with a high of 56 in 1997 and 1998); drove in 100+ runs eight times (leading the AL with a high a 147 in 1997); scored 100 or more runs six times (leading the AL with 125 in 1997); and hit over .300 eight times. Griffey is also tied for the most consecutive MLB games hitting a home run (eight, with Don Mattingly and Dale Long) and he and his father Ken Griffey, Sr. are the only father-son combination to hit back-to-back homers in major league history.

Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Best Season: In 1997, Griffey was selected the AL MVP after a season in which he played in 157 games and led the league in home runs (56), runs scored (125), RBI (147), total bases (393), slugging percentage (.646) and intentional walks (23), while also hitting .304, stealing 15 bases in 19 attempts and winning a Gold Glove.

 

Nobody wanted me. Scouts told me to go to school, to forget baseball.  Coaches said, “You’re never going to make it.” I appreciated their honesty, because I think when someone tells you something you may not like, you have to use that as fuel for motivation.

                                                                                                 Mike Piazza

As much as Ken Griffey Jr. was considered a natural, Mike Piazza was considered a long-shot … not for the Hall of Fame, but for a spot on a big league roster. Piazza was the 1,390th pick of the 1988 draft (62nd round), and the story has it that he was drafted by the Dodgers as a favor to Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, who was a long-time friend of Piazza’s father. It worked out pretty well. Piazza was in the major by 1992, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1993 and, in 16 major league seasons (1992-2007),  put up: a .308 career average; 427 home runs (an MLB-record 396 as a catcher); 12 All Star Selections; and ten Silver Slugger Awards as the best hitter at his position (most ever by a catcher). Over his career, he collected 2,127 hits; 1,335 RBI; and scored 1,048 runs. Piazza topped 30 home runs in nine seasons, with a high of 40 in 1997 and 1999. He also topped 100 RBI six times – and was the first MLB catcher to collect 200 hits in a season (201 in 1997).

Mike Piazza’s Best Season: In 1997, the Dodgers’ backstop hit .362, with 201 hits, 104 runs, 40 HR, 124 RBI.

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Griffey and Piazza – Similarities

As different as their careers were: Griffey and Piazza did have some similarities. For example, both doubled to center in their first MLB at bats, both were replaced by pinch runners in their final MLB games, both made their first All Star teams in their second seasons and both had (arguably) their best seasons in 1997.

First At Bat Doubles

Griffey played his first major league game on April 3, 1989 – and it was a one-run affair, as Griffey’s Mariners lost to the A’s in Oakland by a score of 3-2. The 19-year-old started in CF (batting second) and went one-for-three with a walk. In his first at bat (and first plate appearance), Griffey doubled to center on an 0-1 pitch from Oakland’s Dave Stewart.

Piazza played his first major league game on September 1, 1992 – and (like Griffey’s first game) it was a one-run contest.  Piazza’s Dodgers beat the Cubs 5-4 (13 innings) in Chicago. Like Griffey, the 23-year-old Piazza doubled to center in his first official MLB at bat (off  Cubs’ starter Mike Harkey in the fourth). It was not, however, Piazza’a first plate appearance. Starting at catcher and batting sixth, Piazza’s first plate appearance was a five-pitch walk off Harkey in the top of the second. For the game, Piazza went three-for-three (plus the walk), but neither scored nor drove in a run.

Last Game – Lifted for Pinch Runners

Griffey played his final MLB game on May 31, 2010 – another one-run affair, with Griffey’s Mariners losing to the Twins 5-4 in Seattle. In his last MLB at bat, Griffey (then 40) pinch hit for Mariners’ catcher Rob Johnson in the bottom of the ninth with the Mariners trailing 5-4 and Seattle shortstop Josh Wilson on first base. Griffey grounded to shortstop (on an 0-1 pitch from Twins’ reliever Jon Rauch) and reached first on a fielder’s choice (the Twins forcing Wilson at second). In his last MLB appearance, Griffey was replaced by a pinch runner (Michael Saunders)..

Piazza’s final at bat came on September 30, 2007 – and, yes, it also was a one-run game, with Piazza’s Athletics topping the Angels 3-2 in Oakland. Piazza (then 39) started the game at DH batting fifth. He went 1-for-4, getting a single to right on a 1-0 pitch from Angels’ reliever Chris Bootcheck leading off the ninth inning of a 2-2 game. It was Piazza’s final major league at bat and, like Griffey, in that final appearance, he was lifted for a pinch runner (Shannon Stewart, who scored the game-winning run).

A few other similarities:

  • Both Griffey and Piazza made their first All Star team in their second major league season – Griffey in 1990, Piazza in 1993.
  • Both Griffey and Piazza were All Star Game MVPs – Griffey in 1992, Piazza in 1996.
  • Griffey and Piazza each had six post-season home runs – Griffey in 18 games, Piazza in 32.

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2017 Hall of Fame Ballot

Finally, looking ahead to the 2017 HOF Ballot.  Here are a few BBRT observations:

BBRT sees three eturnees with a good chance for election:

Trevor Hoffman (Relief Pitcher, 1993-2010 )

Hoffman returns for his second time on the ballot. He got 67.3 percent (of the required 75 percent) this past election and (in BBRT’s opinion) deserved better.  BBRT sees Hoffman making it in his second try.

Hoffman is one of only two relievers to reach 600 saves (601) – trailing only Mariano Rivera (652). Hoffman and Rivera, in fact, are the only closers to reach 500 saves. (Note: Hoffman was also the first pitcher to reach the 500- and 600-save mark.) Hoffman led the NL in saves twice and reached 30 or more saves 14 times (with a high of 53 in 1998). He had a career record of 61-75, with a 2.87 ERA over 1,089 1/3 innings in 1,035 games – averaging 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Hoffman pitched for the Marlins (1993), Padres (1993-2008) and Brewers (2009-10).

Trevor Hoffman’s best season: In 1998, Hoffman went 4-2 for the San Diego Padres, with a NL-leading 53 saves (in 54 opportunities). He put up a 1.48 ERA and fanned 86 batters in 73 innings.

Tim Raines (Outfield, 1979-2001)

Raines returns for his tenth year on the ballot.  After getting 69.8 percent last year, Raines should  make it in 2017.

Raines hit .294 over his 23-season MLB career, collecting 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs scored, 170 home runs, 980 RBI and 808 stolen bases (fifth  all time). He was a seven-time All Star; led the NL in stolen bases four consecutive years (1981-84); had a streak of six seasons with at least 70 steals; won the NL batting title in 1986 with a .334 average; led the league in runs scored twice and doubles once. In 34 post-season games, he hit .270 with one home run, six RBI, 18 runs scored and three steals. Raines played for the Expos (1979-1990 and 2001)), White Sox (1991-1995), Yankees (1996-1998), A’s (1999), Orioles (2001) and Marlins (2002).

Tim Raines’ best season:  Despite his  1986 batting title (.334 average), BBRT thinks Raines top season was 1983 (Expos) – 156 games, 179 hits, .298 average, league-leading 133 runs scored, 11 homers, 71 RBI, league-leading 90 steals.

Jeff Bagwell (First Base, 1991-2005)

Bagwell  returns for his seventh time on the ballot, after receiving 71.6 percent in the most recent vote.

In his 15-year MLB career, Bagwell collected 2,314 hits; smashed 449 home runs; stole 202 bases; and put up a .297 average. He also earned a Rookie of the Year Award (1991); a Most Valuable Player Award (1994); one Gold Glove; and four All Star selections.  He twice recorded seasons of 40 or more homers and 30 or more steals.  Bagwell drove in 100 or more runs in eight seasons, leading the league with 116 RBI in 1994 and reaching a high of 135 in 1997. He also led the NL in runs scored three times, with a high of 152 in 2000. His .297 career average was bolstered by six seasons over .300. Bagwell’s chances are hurt a bit by the fact that first base has been manned by so many power hitters over time.  Bagwell, who played his entire career with the Houston Astros, stands a good chance of reaching the 75 percent threshhool in 2017.  However, the presence of Hoffman and Raines (in his tenth season on the ballot) may hurt his chances.

Jeff Bagwell’s best season: In 1994, Bagwell earned the NL MVP Award with a season in which he hit .368, with 39 home runs, scored a NL-leading 104 runs, led the league with 116 RBU, stole 15 bases (in 19 attempts) – and won a Gold Glove.

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New to the Hall of fame Ballot

There are a handful of first-timers on the ballot, who may get a significant number of votes, but BBRT thinks will fall victim to the first-ballot prejudice.

Ivan Rodriguez (C – 1991-2011)

Ivan Rodriguez played 21 MLB seasons (Rangers Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, Astros, Nationals), putting up 2,844 hits, a .296 average, 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI. He was a 14-time All Star, 13-time Gold Glove Winner and won the AL MVP Award in 1999. If any of the first-timers on the ballot captured the necessary votes, it’s likely to be I-Rod – with his combination of leather (13 Gold Gloves) and lumber (seven Silver Slugger Awards).

Manny Ramirez (OF  – 1993-2011)

Manny Ramirez played 19 MLB seasons (Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, White Sox, Rays), collecting 2,574 hits, a  .312 batting average, 555 home runs and 1,.831 RBI. Ramirez was a 12-time All Star and led the AL in average (2002), home runs (2004) and RBI (1999) once each.  Ramirez won nine Silver Slugger Awards, including eight consecutive (1999-2006), hit .285 with 29 home runs in 111 post season games and was the 2004 World Series MVP.  Ramirez clearly put up HOF-caliber numbers, but my guess is that voters will remember “Manny being Manny” and make him wait a year or two.

Vladimir Guerrero (OF – 1996-2011)

In a 16-year MLB career (Expos, Angels, Rangers, Orioles) Vladimir Guerrora hit a solid .318 (13 seasons of .300 or better), smacked 449 home runs (a high of 44 in 2000), drove in 1,496 runs (10 seasons of 100+) and stole 181 bases (with a high of 40 in 2002.)  Guerrero was the AL MVP in 2004 (when he  hit .337, with 39 home runs and a 126 RBI). He was a nine–time All Star and eight-time  Silver Slugger Award winner. Still his stats may fall short of the voters proven reluctance to elect “first-timers” on the ballot to the Hall.

A very ealry prediction – BBRT’s Best Best for 2017 HOF Election:  Trevor Hoffman, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez. 

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Just Arrived in the Mail – Blackwing Pencils’ Limited Edition Tribute to Joe DiMaggio

My Blackwing Volume 56 tribute to Joe DIMaggio's hitting streak. (No, the ball didn't come with it. That was off my shefl.

My Blackwing Volume 56 tribute to Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak. (No, the ball didn’t come with it. That was off my shefl.

I seldom write about products in these BBRT posts (except, of course, for baseball book reviews), but every once in a while I see something unique, fun and baseball themed that I’d like to share with readers.   This is one of those times.

I think I’d finally found the perfect pencil for keeping score at the ball park – The Blackwing Volume 56, which pays tribute to the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s record-setting, 56-game hitting streak.   As regular readers may know, BBRT can be old school – and this pencil feels, smells and looks like it belongs tucked into an old-style scorecard.

The pencil features a blue pinstriped barrel to reflect the Yankees’ iconic pinstriped uniforms, and it’s imprinted with a gold “56.”.  While the Yankee Clipper’s baseball legacy includes a spot on 10 American League pennant winners and nine World Series champions, 13 All-Star selections, three American League MVP Awards, two batting titles, two home run crowns, and the Yankees retirement of his number (five) – the number DiMaggio may be best known for is “56”

From May 15, 1941 through July 16, 1941, “Joltin’ Joe” hit safely in an MLB-record 56 consecutive games. During the streak, DiMaggio hit .408, with 91 hits, 15 home runs, 56 runs scored and 55 RBI.  DiMaggio had 34 one-hit games during the streak; 13 two-hit games; five three-hit contests; and four four-hit games. The Yankees went 41-13 (two ties) as DiMaggio scorched AL pitching.

You can see Blackwing Pencils’ video about the streak here.

The DiMaggio streak tribute pencil is selling fast, but if you are interested they may be available here.

The Blackwing Volume 56 is just one of Blackwing’s tribute offerings.  They have also created pencils honoring such individuals and events as Pultizer Prize Winner John Steinbeck; writer, artist and environmentalist John Muir; and the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.  Each of these pencils is designed to reflect the character of the honoree or event. For example, the Blackwing 725 pencil celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Newport Festival with a lacquer finish inspired by the Fender Stratocaster that fueled the Festival – called one of “50 Moments that Changed Rock n’ Roll” by Rolling Stone magazine.

Going forward, I hope Blackwing will honor additional baseball performances or players.

A Brief Look at Blackwing Pencils’ History

Blackwing pencils were favored by award-winning creators throughout the 20th century. Despite a cult following, Blackwing pencils fell victim to a cost-cutting culture in the 1990s and were discontinued. That didn’t stop devotees from paying as much as $40 per pencil for unused stock. In 2010, Palomino Brands (a division of California Cedar Products Company) drew from nearly a century of experience and quality commitments to access the world-class materials and production excellence necessary to bring Blackwing pencils back for a new generation of writers, artists, and others seeking a quality writing instrument and unique writing experience.  For more on Palomino and Blackwing, click here.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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