The Hits Just Keep On Coming – Four-HR and Five-XBH Days

FIVE EXTRA BASE HITS IN A GAME

On September 3, Indians’ 2B Jose Ramirez tied a an MLB record – with a little help from his “friends” – by collecting five extra-base hits in a single game. As the Indians topped the Tigers 11-1 in Detroit, Ramirez collected two home runs and three doubles.  A couple of interesting tidbits about those homers: 1) Ramirez hit one from each side of the plate (the third time he has accomplished that this year; 2) Both home runs were assisted by outfielders (hand/glove) before falling in for four-base hits.

His first home run, in the opening inning, was to left, where Tigers’ LF Mike Mahtook was ready to play the ball off the wall. Ramirez’ smash hit the top of the wall and bounced twice before rebounding toward the field. Mahtook jumped up, attempting to snag the ball with his bare hand – except, instead of cleaning snatching the horsehide, Mahtook bumped/bounced it over the fence.  Then in the sixth inning, Ramirez hit a long line drive to right field, where Tigers’ RF Alex Pressley jumped to make the catch, only to have the ball bounce off his glove, into the stands and back onto the field for another home run.  Ramirez ended the day five-for-five, with three runs scored and five driven in. As of September 4, he was .310-23-69 on the season (leading theleague in extra-base hits) – his fifth MLB campaign. The big day made Ramirez just the 13th player to record five extra-base hits in a game, the details on the other twelve are listed later in this post.

FOUR HOME RUNS IN A GAME

Then, the hits just kept on coming.  The very next day (September 4), The Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez tied another MLB slugging record – rapping four home runs in a single game, as his surging Diamondbacks dominated the Dodgers 13-0 in Los Angeles. The big day mde Martinez the 18th player in MLB history to accomplish that feat,  Here’s how Martinez’ day went:

  • A slow start, striking out swinging to lead off the second inning;
  • Two-run home run to left-center off starter Rich Hill in the top of the fourth;
  • Lead-off homer to right the top of the seventh off Pedro Baez;
  • Solo shot to center off Josh Fields in the eighth;
  • Two-run home run to left off Wilmer Font in the top of the ninth.

For the day, Martinez scored four times and drove in six runs. Martiinez was the second player to notch a four-homer game this seasson. The Reds’ Scotter Gennett was the first. For a look at all the four-home runs games that preceded Ramirez’ and some four-HR game trivia bits, click here.

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Now, here is the list of MLB Players (besides Jose Ramirez) with five extra base hits in a game.

George Streif, Philadelphia Athletics, American Association – June 15, 1885

On June 25, 1885 – as the Brooklyn Grays topped the Philadelphia Athletics, 21-14 in Brooklyn, the Athletics’ 3B George Streif become the first documented MLB player to collect five extra base hits in a single game.  He rapped four triples and a double – for 14 total bases. 1885 was the final year of Streif’s MLB career (1879, 1882-85). Over his career, he hit .208, with five home runs. The 1885 season was his best – as he finished with a stat line of .274-0-27 in 44 games.

George Streif’s four triples on June 15, 1885, remain the MLB record for triples in a game.

George Gore, Chicago White Stockings, NL – July 9, 1885

The second MLB player to record five hits in a game – like the first – was also a George.   In a July 9, 1885 game against the Providence Grays, Cubs’ outfielder George Gore collected three doubles and two triples. The Cubs won, at home, 8-5. In 1885, Gore hit .313, with five home runs and 37 RBI. In a 14-season MLB career (1879-1892), he hit .301-46-618.  His best year was 1880, when he won then NL batting championship with a .360 average, and posted two home runs and 47 RBI in 77 games. That season, he also led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Gore hit over .300 eight times in his career and led the NL in runs scored twice and walks three times.

George Gore also owns a share of the record for stolen bases in a single game at seven (June 25, 1881).

Larry Twitchell, Cleveland Spiders, NL – August 15, 1889

On August 15, 1889, Larry Twitchell started in LF for the Cleveland Spiders (versus the Boston Beaneaters) in Boston. Twitchell would later pitch a scoreless inning in that 19-8 Cleveland victory, but his bat is what earned him attention that day. Twitchell went six-for-six (with a walk), rapping a double, three triples, a home run and a single. Twitchell collected three RBI and scored four times in the game. Twitchell hit .275, with four home runs (11 triples) and 95 RBI on the season – arguably the best performance in his nine-year MLB career (1886-94). Twitchell’s career stat line was .263-19-384.  For those who like to stump friends with trivia, Twitchell is the only player who also took the mound on a day he collected five extra-base hits.

Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, AL – July 14, 1946

On July 14, 1946 – as the Indians lost to the Red Sox 11-10 –  Indians’ shortstop Lou Boudreau went five-for-five, collecting four doubles and a home run. Boudreau scored three runs and collected four RBI in the game. Boudreau, who went .295-68-789 over 15 MLB seasons (1938-52), hit .293, with six home runs (30 doubles) and 62 RBI in 1946. In 1947, he had his best season ever – going .355-18-106.

Joe Adcock, Milwaukee Braves, NL – July 31, 1954

On the final day of July in 1954 – as his Braves beat the Dodgers 15-7 – 1B Joe Adcock rapped four home runs (tying the single game record) and a double.  His 18 total bases set the MLB record for a single game (later broken). Adcock scored five times and drove in seven runs in the game.  Adcock had a 17-season MLB career in which he hit .277, with 336 home runs and drove in 1,122 runs. In 1954, he went .308-23-87. His best season was 1961, when he went .285-35-108.

Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates, NL – August 1, 1970

Stargell was the big bopper on the day the Pirates topped the Atlanta Braves 20-10 in Atlanta. Stargell, playing LF, went five-for-six with two home runs, and three doubles.  He scored five runs and drove in six. For the season, he hit .264, with 31 home runs and 85 RBI. Hardly a great campaign for a player who, over 21 MLB seasons (1962-82), would hit .282, with 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI – topping forty home runs twice and 100 RBI five times and earning 1979 NL MVP recognition with a .281-32-82 season.

Steve Garvey, Los Angeles Dodgers, NL – August 28, 1977

On August 28, 1977 Dodgers’ starter Don Sutton threw a neat six-hit, complete-game shutout, as the Dodgers pounded the Cardinals 11-0 in LA.  The big news, however, focused on the number five – as the Dodgers’ popular first baseman, Steve Garvey, went five-for-five, with five runs scored, five RBI and a MLB record-tying five extra-base hits.

Garvey launched two home runs and a trio of doubles on his big day. For the 1977 season, Garvey hit .297, with 33 home runs and 115 RBI.  Over his 19-season MLB (1969-87) career, Garvey was a ten-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.  His best season was probably 1974, when he won the NL MVP Award with a .312-21-111 performance – although he notched better numbers in many categories along the way. For example, in 1977, he hit .297 with career highs in home runs (33) and RBI (115). Garvey also twice led the NL in hits and logged six seasons of 200 or more safeties.  His final career line was .294-272-1,308 (with 2,599 hits).

Shawn Green, Los Angeles Dodgers, NL – May 23, 2002

SGreenOn May 23, 2002, the Dodgers topped the Brewers 16-3 in Milwaukee – and RF Shawn Green topped the Dodgers with six hits in six at bats, six runs scored and seven RBI. Green’s output included an MLB record-tying four home runs, a double and a single. On the season, Green hit .285-42-114 and, over a 15-season MLB career, his line was .283-328-1,070. Green’s best season was 2001, when he hit .297, with 49 home runs and 125 RBI.  Overall, he topped 40 home runs three times and had 100 or more RBI four times.

On May 23, 2002, the Dodgers’ Shawn Green hit for 19 total bases – the MLB record for total bases in a game.

Kelly Shoppach, Cleveland Indians, AL – July 30, 2008

Despite catcher Kelly Shoppach’s five-extra base hit game, the Indians lost to the Tigers (in Cleveland) by a 14-12 score.  Shoppach went five-for-six with two home runs and three doubles – scoring four times and collecting three RBI. On the season, Shoppach hit .261, with 21 home runs and 55 RBI in 112 games (the most games he would play in any of his nine MLB seasons).  Shoppach put up career-high numbers nearly across-the-board in 2008 (games-112; hits-92; runs-67; doubles-27; home runs-21; RBI-55; average-.261). Over his MLB career (2005-12), he hit .223, with 70 home runs and 216 RBI.

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, AL – May 8, 2012

Josh Hamilton was in CF, batting third for the Rangers as they took on the Orioles in Baltimore. He bashed four home runs (tying the MLB single-game record) and a double in five at bats – scoring four times and driving in eight, as the Rangers emerged victorious by a 10-3 score. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, hit .285, with 43 home runs and 128 RBI in 2012. His best campaign was 2010, when he went .359-32-100. In a nine-year MLB career (2007-15), Hamilton put up a .290-200-701 line.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., Boston Red Sox, AL – August 15, 2015

In mid-August of 2015, Red Sox’ RF Jackie Bradley collected three doubles and a pair of home runs in six at bats, as his Red Sox pounded the Mariners 22-10 in Boston.  Bradley scored five times and plated seven tallies. Bradley finished the season at .249-10-43 in 74 games. As of September 4 of 2017, his fifth MLB season, Bradley had played 504 MLB games, putting up a .243-54-224 stat line.

Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs, NL – June 27, 2016

On June 27, 2016 – as the Cubs topped the Reds 11-8 in Cincinnati – Cubbies’ starting third baseman Kris Bryant rapped three home runs and two doubles in five at bats (crossing the plate four times and driving in six runs). Bryant proved to be truly on the move – also playing right field and left field in the game.  It was the 24-year-old Bryant’s second MLB season and he finished at .292-39-102 (with an NL-leading 121 runs scored). His performance earned him the NL MVP award. As of September 4, 2017 – just Bryant’s third MLB season – his career line was .285-90-260.

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Little League Provides Major League Highlight in August

There were plenty of highlights in August – pennant races, a trio of Immaculate Innings, landmark home runs by rookies and veterans, near-perfect games, a team hitting over .300 for the month and more.  We will get into all that in this post – the traditional Baseball Roundtable monthly wrap of stats and stories – but from this vantage point, the highlight of the month was MLB’s first-ever Little League Classic.

http://Embed from Getty Images

On August 20, MLB held its first Little League Classic (in conjunction with the Little League World Series).  It included an MLB game between the Pirates and Cardinals played in a venerable minor league ballpark (91-year-old Bowman Field) across town (Williamsport, PA) from the Little League World Series. The 2,366-seat ballpark was packed for the event – primarily with Little Leaguers and their families.

The Pirates came away with a 6-3 victory and the star of the contest was Pirates’ 1B and cleanup hitter Josh Bell, who had a single, home run (his 21st of the season) and four RBI. The real winners, however, were in Little League uniforms, as the Pirates and Cardinals players, coaches and staff spent most of the pre-game day mingling with the youngsters – touring the facilities, answering questions, signing autographs, taking selfies and watching their games. (How cool when the guy watching you in a Matt Carpenter jersey IS Matt Carpenter.) Cardinals’ players Tommy Pham and Carlos Martinez even popped for snow cones for the kids seated near them (200 snow cones in all) as they watched the Little Leaguers compete.

Clearly, the players (both Little League and Major League) and fans all had a good – no make that GREAT – time and I hope MLB will make the Little League Classic an annual event. In another effort to add excitement for players and fans, August also saw the first-ever MLB Players Weekend – bringing a little color to the game and offering players a chance to express themselves in personalized socks, equipment and nicknames.  For BBRT’s take on that successful promotion, click here.

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Now, let’s get down to the traditinal monthly wrap up.  As usual, there will be plenty of stats AND plenty of stories.  We’ll look at the month of August first – and drop in the year-to-date (through August 31) standings and stastical leaders at the end of the post.  For those who are less statistically inclined, it’s pretty easy to skip over the stat-heavy sections and go right to the stories that caught Baseball Roundtable’s interest over the course of the month.  Along the way, you’ll also find BBRT’s Players and Pitchers of the Month and a look at August’s most successful teams.

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE’S AUGUST PLAYER(S) AND PITCHER(S) OF THE MONTH

National League Player of the Month – Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

Giancarlo Stanton photo

Photo by Corn Farmer

What can you say about the numbers Giancarlo Stanton put up in August?  He was a beast. The Marlins’ RF banged out an MLB-leading 18 home runs (tying Rudy York’s record for August – set in 1937 – and second in MLB history for any month, trailing only Sammy Sosa’s 20 home runs in June of 1998.) Stanton also led all of MLB in August RBI (37) and runs scored (28), while hitting .349.  Our August NL Player of the Month, ended August at .289-51-110 on the season.  Also in the running, but well behind Stanton, were Phillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins – who made his MLB debut August 10 – and put together a .304-11-25 line for the month. More on RH in the stories section. The Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt also had an honor-worthy month – .330-11-31.  But, ultimately and easily, Stanton is the guy.

National League Pitcher of the Month – Corey Knebel Brewers

BBRT’s NL Pitcher of the Month is Brewers’ closer Corey Knebel, who went 13-f0r-13 in save opportunities, posted a 0.00 ERA and fanned 21 batters in 15 1/3 innnigs.  Knebel – saving 13 of the Brewers’ 15 August wins – kept the Brew Crew in the NL Central race.

The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta also drew consideration after an August record of 4-1, with a 1.21 ERA in six starts, as  did the Nationals’ Geo Gonzalez,who who went 4-1, 2.23 in five starts (but for a loss and five earned run in six innings on August 31, Gonzalez might have slipped past Knebel.

AL Player of the Month – Manny Machado, Orioles

Manny Machado photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Picking an AL Player of the Month was a bit more challenging than selecting Giancarlo Stanton for the NL recognition. Ultimately, BBRT selected Orioles’ 3B Manny Machado, who hit .341, led the AL in RBI (35) and tied for the league lead in August home runs (12) – while also continuing to deliver plus defense at the hot corner. One unusual stat from Machado’s August performance – despite his strong numbers, he only drew three walks over the entire  month (also only 11 strikeouts).

Running a very close second was Tim Beckham, who celebrated his move from the Rays to the O’s (and his new job as the Orioles’ shortstop) by leading MLB with 50 August hits and a .394 average. Beckham also led the AL in runs scored for August with 27 – and added six home runs and 19 RBI. Before joining the Orioles, Beckham’s 2017 line with the Rays was .259-12-36 in 87 games. Looks like crab cakes agree with him. I also looked at the Rangers’ ageless Adrian Beltre, who went .330-7-30 for the month (one of only five major leaguers to reach 30 RBI).

AL Pitcher of the Month – Corey Kluber, Indians

Corey Kluber photo

Photo by apardavila

Corey Kluber earned the honor by going 5-1, with a sub-2.00 ERA (1.96) in six starts. The Indians’ righty averaged 7 2/3 innings per start and fanned an MLB-leading  54 batters (against just six walks) in 46 innings.  In his six starts (including a pair of complete games), Kluber never gave up more than six hits and only once surrended more than two runs (three).  In his only loss, he gave up two runs on four hits  in 7 2/3 innnigs, while walking one and fanning 12.

Also in the runnig were the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, who went 4-0, 2.00 in four starts, fanning 45 in 36 innings; the Indians’ Trevor Bauer (5-0, 2.31); and the Rays’ Alex Colome, ten-for-ten in save opportunities, with a 0.75 ERA for the month.

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TEAM STATS – TWINS AND NATIONALS; MOST AUGUST WINS

We saw a bit of shifting in the standings in August.  First, nobody won more games (or even as many) as the Twins, who went 20-10 and moved into the second AL Wild Card spot. Ironically, Minnesota closed out July by losing six of their last seven and became sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline (most notably dealing their All Star closer Brandon Kintzler). Then, in August, their young bats got hot and the Twin scored an AL-high 177 runs. Among the keys to the Twins’ resurgence were 24-year-old SS Jorge Polanco (.373-6-23 for the month); veteran (and former AL MVP) 1b Joe Mauer (.336-1-12); 23-year-old CF and defensive whiz Byron Buxton (.324-8-22); and 25-year-old LF Eddie Rosario (.307-9-25). Overall, the Twins hit .280 with 50 roundtrippers for August (both second only to Baltimore in the AL), and also logged the fifth-best staff ERA in the AL (3.78).

ROLLING A 300

In August, the Orioles hit .306 as a team – the only MLB squad to hit .300 or better.  They also led all of MLB with 57 August round trippers.  The only other team to reach 50 was the Twins. 

While the  Twins moved into a Wild Card spot, they didn’t gain much ground on the Central Division-leading Indians, who rode a pitching staff with the AL’s best August ERA (3.08), fewest walks and most strikeouts to a 19-win (versus nine losses) month. Leading the way for the Indians were Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer – a combined 10-1, 2.11 for the month. Other AL teams hot during the dog days of August were the Red Sox (18-9), Angels (18-10) and Orioles (17-12).  At the other end of the spectrum were the White Sox (11-18); Tigers (11-17) and A’s (11-16). The Red Sox’ strong month enabled them to overtake (and build a 4 1/2 game lead over) the Yankees, who were in first place August 1, but faded with a 14-15 record for the month.

RUNS – WE DON’T COUNT THE STINKIN’ RUNS

Of the teams that would qualify for the playoffs as of August 31, only the Twins have a negative run-differential on the season – having scored 646 runs and given up 661 for a -15. The Dodgers have the largest postive run differential year-to-date at +209, while the Padres have the largest negative at -150.  (Ouch!)

The Nationals led the pack in the NL, with 18 wins (versus 11 losses) – driven by a pitching staff that turned in an NL -low ERA of 3.19 for the month. The names of the biggest contributors might surprise you. Gio Gonzalez was the staff leader at 4-1, 2.23 in five August starts and in the bullpen, trade-deadline newcomer Sean Doolittle chipped in nine saves and a 1.38 ERA. The offense wasn’t bad, tallying the NL’s fifth-most runs for the month, but it was really the pitching that enabled the Nats to expand their division lead by a game, despite the Marlins solid 17-12 August (led by Giancarlo Stanton’s .349-18-37 performance). The Dodgers lost their last five games in August, but still finished 17-10 – with a 16-game lead over the Diamondbacks. At the bottom of the NL’s August results were the Mets (10-20) and the Phillies (11-19).

As we go into September, the closest division races are in the NL Central, where the Cubs lead the Brewers by 3 1/2 and the AL East, where the Red Sox lead the Yankees by 4 1/2.  The team farthest out of first place is the Giants, 40 games out. The best race going may be for the two AL Wild Card spots – with a 3 1/2 game spread among the Yankees, Twins, Angels and Orioles.  FULL STANDINGS AND EACH TEAM’S AUGUST RECORD IN THE CHART NEAR THE END OF THE POST. 

IF THE SEASON ENDED AUGUST 31, YOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS WOULD BE …

NL: Dodgers, Nationals, Cubs.  Wild Cards: Diamondbacks, Rockies

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

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NOW FOR AUGUST TEAM STATISTICAL LEADERS

TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Runs Scored (MLB Average – 132)

NL: Cubs – 191; Reds – 165; Cardinals – 162

AL: Twins – 177; Orioles – 175; Rangers – 156

FEWEST TALLIES

No team scored fewer runs in August than the Rays, with just 94 – the only team with less than 100 tallies for the month. The Brewers trailed all NL teams with just 103 August runs. The Padres had the lowest team batting average for the month at just .225 (the NL average was .254); while the Rays put up the lowest average in the AL at .228 (leaguer average – .258).

Average (MLB Average – .256)

NL:  Cubs – .290; Cardinals – .280; Braves – .273

AL: Orioles – .306; Twins – .280; Rangers – .275

SLUGGING PERCENTAGE

The Orioles were the only team  with a slugging percentage above .500 for the month (.534 – more than 100 points above the MLB average for August), while three teams finished with slugging percentages under .400 (Pirates – .367; Padres – .381; Giants – .392).

Home Runs (MLB Average – 37)

NL: Reds -49; Cubs – 48; D-backs – 42

AL:  Orioles – 57; Twins – 50; Indians – 46

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 15)

NL: Reds – 20; Nationals – 19; Padres & Brewers – 18

AL: Angels- 27; Red Sox – 25;  Twins – 22

 GOTCHA!

The only teams to swipe fewer than ten bases in August were the Pirates, Cardinals and Orfioles (nine each). Atlanta had the worst success rate – with 14 steals in 25 attempts (56 percent). Cleveland was successful a MLB-best 89 percent in August (17-for-19). 

Walks (MLB Average – 92)

NL: Reds – 141; Cardinals – 114; Cubs – 110

AL: Twins – 106; Red Sox – 104; Angels & Rangers – 103

FREE SWINGERS

When you talk about free swingers, look to the Brewers and Cubs, who each fanned an MLB-leading 274 times in August.  The White Sox led the AL with 265 . 

 TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Earned Run Average (MLB average – 4.38)

NL: Nationals – 3.30; Dodgers – 3.60; Brewers – 3.72

AL: Indians – 3.08; Rays – 3.34; Angels – 3.62

Send Reinforcements. Quickly!

Seven teams had ERAs over 5.00 for August – topped by the Royals at 5.89. Then came the Tigers (5.69); White Sox (5.63); Reds (5.42); Phillies (5.40); and A’s (5.26); and Mariners (5.03). 

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 132)

NL: Dodgers – 97; Nationals – 98; Brewers – 111

AL: Indians – 87; Rays – 96; Angels – 110

Strikeouts (MLB Average – 230)

NL: Dodgers – 260; Cubs – 259; Mets – 255

AL: Indians – 290; Yankees – 268; Red Sox – 266

FATTENING UP THE OLD AVERAGES

Opponents hit a lusty .294 against Tiger pitching in August (MLB’s worst Batting Average Against). The Phillies’ staff was the most accommodating in the NL at .287.

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB Average – 92)

NL: Dodgers – 71; Rockies – 75; Giants – 82

AL: Indians – 68; Twins – 70; Rays – 71

POWER AND PRECISION

The league leaders in August pitchers’ strikeouts – Dodgers and Indians – also each gave up the fewest walks in thier leagues. I guess they were not only throwing hard – but knew where the ball was going. 

Saves (MLB average – 8)

NL: Brewers – 14; D-backs – 13; three with 10

AL: Angels – 12; Mariners &  Rays – 11

Blown Saves

The Royals’ pen blew the most saves in August with six – and also had the lowest save percentage (40 percent).

Now on to the MLB August stats and stories.

 

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YOU’VE SEEN SOME (TEAM) STATS, HOW ABOUT A FEW AUGUST STORIES?

THE RH FACTOR

HoskinsThere were some “powerful” stories in August.  Number-one – at least from Baseball Roundtable’s vantage point – was the fast start of RH, Phillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins. The 24-year-old rookie LF/1B made his debut August 10 (He was hitting .284, with 29 home runs and 91 RBI for the Triple A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.).In his first major league at bat, Hoskins struck out looking versus the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. His next trip to the plate, he hit into a 4-6-3 double play. And in his final plate appearance of the day, he drew a six-pitch walk. After four games, things did not look much better. Hoskins was one-for-sixteen (.077), with one run scored and one RBI.

In Hoskins’ fifth game (August 14), things began to get interesting, as he went two-for-four with a pair of home runs.  Then between, August 14 and 27, Hoskins went on a tear – 18-for-51 (.353) in 14 games, with 11 home runs and 23 RBI.   That gave Hoskins the record (we do track everything in baseball) for the fewest games played by a player reaching 11 home runs (18), as well as the fewest at bats to reach that number (64). Note: Hoskins was also the fastest to reach the nine- and ten-home run marks, but who’s counting. And,  just to top it off, young Mr. Hoskins – on August 27 –  made a sliding, shoestring catch to start a 7-4-3 triple play.

6 – 20- 25: CUBS LUCKY NUMBERS

On August 30, Cubs’ 22-year-old rookie Ian Happ (who, by the way, has played second base, third base and all three outfield positions this season) hit his 20th home run of 2017.  Nice job for a rookie – and he helped set an MLB record (another that falls into the “We count everything” category). With that homer, the Cubs became the first team with six players, age 25-or-under with 20 home runs.  The others are: Anthony Rizzo (31 HR this season); Kris Bryant (25); Kyle Schwarber (24); Wilson Contreras (21); Javier Baez (20).

FORTY-FOUR GOING ON THIRTY

Bartolo Colon - now a Twin - made a couple stops in New York on his way to topping all thirty franchises. Photo by Terry Foote

Bartolo Colon –
now a Twin –
made a couple stops in New York on his way to topping all thirty franchises.
Photo by Terry Foote

On August 20, the Twins (still in the Wild Card chase, looked to 44-year-old July pickup Bartolo Colon to win a big game (against the Diamondbacks) for Minnesota. Colon, in his twentieth MLB season, came through – going six innings (seven hits, two walks, four runs and six strikeouts) in 12-5 Twins win.  (The nine runs the Twins put on the board in the first inning certainly helped.) It was Colon’s third win in five decisions (with a 4.46 ERA in seven starts) since joining the Twins. Colon had been 2-8, 8.14 with the Braves at the time of the trade.

That’s not what made this contest special, however. Colon’s victory was his first against the Diamondbacks and made him the 18th pitcher to record a victory against all thirty current MLB franchises. On his way to completing the victory circuit, Colon (who ended August with 239 MLB wins) pitched for the Indians, Expos, White Sox, Angels, Athletics, Mets, Braves and Twins. Here is your list of pitchers who have carved a victory notch in their belt (a little Bartolo-pun there) against each of the thirty franchises: Al Leiter; Kevin Brown; Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling; Woody Williams; Jamie Moyer; Randy Johnson; Barry Zito; A.J. Burnett; Javier Vazquez; Vincente Padilla; Derek Lowe; Dan Haren; Kyle Lohse; Tim Hudson; John Lackey; Max Scherzer; Bartolo Colon.   Colon, by the way, had a strong August – going 4-1, 3.40 for the month – and helping the Twins stay in the Wild Card hunt. 

21 – GOING PAST 30

On August 2, Dodgers’ 21-year-old rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger hit his 30th home run of the 2017 seasons (in a Dodgers 5-3 loss to the Braves). The long ball made Bellinger just the tenth NL rookie to reach the 30-HR mark. Bellinger ended the month of August 34 home runs on the season,well within striking distance of the NL rookie record of 38 (shared by the Braves’ Wally Berger, 1930 and the Reds’ Frank Robinson, 1956).  The overall record for rookies – 49 by the Mark McGwire of the A’s in 1987) seems out of reach.  Surprisingly, despite his 34 dingers, Bellinger does not lead MLB rookies in 2017 homeruns.  That honor goes to the Yankees’ Aaron Judge with 37 at the end of August.

A SHIFTY SITUATION

Dylan Bundy, suffered a shift-beating, no-hitter stopping buntsingle. Photo by Keith Allison

Dylan Bundy,
suffered a shift-beating, no-hitter stopping bunt single.
Photo by Keith Allison

On August 29, Dylan Bundy of the Orioles got the start against the Mariners – and came away with a complete-game, shutout victory (4-0). He almost came away with a whole lot more, however. With one out in the fourth inning, Bundy had allowed three base runners – one on an error and two on walks – and no hits. That brought up Mariners’ 3B Kyle Seager and brought on a defensive shift that moved Orioles’ 3B Manny Machado over to shortstop territory and left the hot corner vacant. Seager beat the shift with a bunt toward first base, logging the Mariners’ first hit.

Seager’s shift-beating bunt single would, ultimately, turn out to be the Mariners’ ONLY hit – as Bundy allowed only a safe-on-error and hit-by-pitch the rest of the way.  He finished with a one-hit, twelve-strikeout shutout.  For another August near no-hitter that caught my eye, read on after the sidebar box below.

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE SHIFT HIT THE FANS?

Probably in the stands.  In the 2017 edition of the “Bill James Handbook” (Acta Sports, Chicago Il), writer/researcher John Dewan reports that MLB teams used defensive shifts 2,350 times in 2011 – and 28,074 times in 2016.  (Note: I highly recommend the Bill James Handbook, lots of great info for fans.)

On August 23, Dodgers’ southpaw Rich Hill took a perfect game (versus the Pirates) into the ninth inning, only to lose the “perfecto” on an error by LA third baseman Logan Forsythe on a ball hit by the leadoff hitter in the ninth (Pittsburgh SS Jordy Mercer). Hill got the next three hitters to keep the shutout and no-hitter intact. Unfortunately, for Hill, Pirates’ hurlers Trevor Williams (eight innings) and Felipe Rivero (one inning) held the Dodgers scoreless. Juan Nicosia came on to pitch a clean tenth for Pittsburgh – setting the stage for heartbreak. Pirates’ 2B Josh Harrison led off the tenth with a walk-off home run.   Hill not only lost the perfect game, but also the no-hitter, shutout and the game itself.  His line in the loss: nine innings pitched, one hit, one run, ten strikeouts.  For more on perfect games lost late, click here.

ANOTHER IMMACULATE INNING

In the month of August, three pitchers threw Immaculate Innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches):

  • Dellin Betances, Yankees – August 2 versus Tigers (Jim Adduci, Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera)
  • Jose Alvarado, Rays – August 4 versus Brewers (Travis Shaw, Jesus Aguilar, Herman Perez)
  • Rick Porcello, Red Sox – August 9 versus Rays (Trevor Plouffe, Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith)

This brings 2017’s total Immaculate Innings to an MLB single-season record eight. For more on Immaculate Innnigs, click here.

I LIKE IKE
Okay, you have to be pretty old to remember the Presidential campaign slogan “I Like Ike,” but you don’t have to be very old to like Ike Davis, who once had a 32-homer season while playing 1B for the Mets.  Davis, who hit .239, with 81 home runs and 291 RBI in seven MLB seasons is working to  revitalize his career (at age 30) as a relief pitcher in the Dodgers’ system. Not a total surprise, Ike’s dad – Ron Davis – racked up 130 saves in 11 MLB seasons and young Ike pitched in relief for Arizona State. (It was the Ron Davis connection – he came in to close for my home town Twins to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger” – that captured my attention.)

In his first appearance in the Arizona Fall League, Davis pitched one inning – striking out the side. As August ended, Davis had thrown 5 2/3 Fall League innings without surrenduring an earned run (three hits, four walks, six strikeouts).  Side note: in 2015, Davis made two pitching appearances for the Oakland A’s, giving up one hit and one walk (no runs) and fanning one. (He also played 65 games at 1B.)

A LONG WAY FROM HOME

The Angels’ Albert Pujols hit five home runs in August, bringing his season total to 21. Like most of Pujols’ long flies these days, they were a bit historic.  They brought his career total 612– moving him past  Sammy Sosa (609) and giving Pujols the most MLB home runs of any foreign-born player.  They also enabled Pujols  to catch Jim Thome for seventh place all time on the HR list.  Pujols finished August at .232-21-83.  Next up – Ken Griffey Jr. 630.

COMPARING THE KIDS

Bryce Harper photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On August 7, as the Nationals topped the Marlins 3-2, Bryce Harper hit his 150th career round tripper – becoming only the 14th player to reach that milestone before reaching age 25. Harper, of course, is often compared to another young MLB Star – the Angels’ Mike Trout.  Trout also hit 150 long balls before 25.  In fact, Harper and Trout reached that milemarker at EXACTLY the same age – 24-year and 295-days.

 

 

RUN THAT BY ME AGAIN

The Ray’s 3B Evan Longoria opened August with a bang – an August first cycle. Longoria’s cycle included a two-run home run in the first inning; a run-scoring triple in the third; a fly out to second in the fifth; a single in the seventh.   Then with two out in the ninth, and needing a double to complete the cycle, he hit a liner down the left-field and turned on the after-burners.  The play ended in a head-first slide into second – and Longoria called out. After a review, however, the call was overturned and Longoria had run/slid his way into the record books – by way of the replay.

KNOW A GOOD RESEARCHER?

On August 29th, the Twins’ Jorge Polanco became just the fifth Twin to homer from both sides of the plate in a game (as the Twins topped the White Sox 6-4). That’s not what caught my eye, however (after all, it has been done more than 300 times – a record 14 by Mark Teixiera and Nick Swisher). What intrigued me was that, the following day, LF Ehire Adrianza became just the third Twin to hit a triple from both sides of the plate in a game (joining Polanco and Christian Guzman). If there are any great researchers out there who can answer this question, it could save me a lot of time.  How many times has that been done?

13 – LUCKY AND UNLUCKY

On August 19, the red-hot Dodgers topped the Tigers 3-0 in Detroit.  It was the Dodgers 13th interleague victory of the 2017 season – tying a record for consecutive interleague victories shared by the 2004 Tigers and 2006 Red Sox. The win was also the Dodgers sixth in a row and 13th (against just three losses) in August.  Thirteen, however, also marked the end of the streak. In the next game, a pair of Justins brought justice to Detroit – as the Tigers topped LA 6-1, with Justin Erlanger giving up just two hits, one  walk and one run (nine strikeouts) over eight innings and LF Justin Upton stroking a two-run home run.  Side note: Two key Justins (Upton and Verlander) were traded away by the Tigers in  September. 

SOUTHPAW TAKES NORTHERNMOST SPOT IN THE RECORD BOOKS

cC sABATHIA photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On August 19, Yankee veteran southpaw C.C. Sabathia picked up his tenth win of the seasons (10-5, 3.99) as the Yankees topped the rival Red Sox 4-3 in Boston. Sabathia went six innings and gave up four hits and two runs, walking one and fanning four.    His second strikeout of the game – Chris Young for the second out in the second inning –  gave Sabathia 2,680 AL strikeouts; setting a new record for AL lefthanders. (Mickey Lolich had held the record at 2,679). Sabathia, in his 17th MLB season ended the month 11-5, 3.70 on the season.  For his career (as of August 31), he is 234-146,  3.70 – with 2,822 strikeouts in 3,289 2/3 innings.

 

EDDIE MATHEWS, FRANK ROBINSON, MIKE TROUT – HITING ‘EM HARD AND HITTING ‘EM EARLY

On August 19, Mike Trout hit his 25th and 26th round trippers of the season as the Angels beat the Orioles 5-1 in Baltimore. In the process, Trout became just the third MLB player to have six seasons of 25 or more home runs before his age-26 season. He joined Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson with that distinction.  For the full story, click here.

SPEED KILLS – IN A GOOD WAY

bYRON bUXTON tWINS photo

Photo by Keith Allison

August was a big month for MLB’s speed merchants, as eight players recorded inside-the-park home runs – the most in a month in forty years. At the top of my list is Twins’ CF Byron Buxton (Disclaimer: I am from Minnesota, so I am a bit biased on this one.)  Statcast™  clocked Buxton circling the bases in 13.85 second on August 18 (in Minnesota versus the Diamondbacks), breaking his own Statcast™ record of 14.05 seconds set last October 2. Here’s your list of August I-T-P home runs.

 

 

August 7, Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (versus Giants).

August 12, David Peralta, LF, D-backs (versus Cubs)

August 17, Daniel Descalso, 2B, D-backs (versus Astros)

August 18, Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (versus D-backs)

August 18, Nicky Delmonico, DH, White Sox (versus Rangers)

August 19, Denard Span, CF, Giants (versus Phillies)

August 22, Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers (versus Yankees)

August 24, J.T. Realmuto, 1B, Marlins (versus Phillies)

ALL STAR ALL AROUND THE BASES

In 2007, Ichiro Suzuki became the first (and still only) player to hit an inside-the-park home run in the All Star Game. 

ANOTHER ANGLE ON SPEED

On August 16, Padres 1B Wil Meyers turned on the after-burners.  In the fourth inning of that game, with a runner on second and two out, Meyers broke up a scoreless game with a run-scoring single to left. Myers then stole second and, after catcher Austin Hedges walked, successfully stole third. Meyer topped off his inning successful stealing home on the front end of a double steal. It was just the 51st time in MLB history that a player stole second, third and home in one inning. Forty-one different players have stolen their way around the bases in an inning, with only four doing it more than once in their careers: Ty Cobb (four times); Honus Wagner (four times): Max Carey (twice); Jackie Tavener (twice).

“WHIFF “- EL BALL

Yankee rookie phenom Aaron Judge set a new single-season  major league record for consecutive games with a strike out by a position player at 37 (July 8 – August 20) topping Adam Dunn’s 2012 record of 32 (with the White Sox). Judge also broke pitcher Bill Stoneman’s overall single-single season (1971) record for consecutive games played with a strikeout (35) and tied Stoneman’s record for consecutive games played with strikeout of 37 over more than one seasons (set in 1971-72). For more on Judge’s streak, click here.

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SO MUCH FOR STORIES – NOW, AUGUST STATISTICES

 

—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST—-

Average (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – .383; Jonathan Villar, Brewers – .364; Ender Inciarte, Braves – .362

AL: Avisail Garcia, White Sox – .423; Tim Beckman, Orioles – .394; Christian Vazquez, Red Sox – .385

Reverse Order

The lowest batting average for a player with at least 50 at bats in August was .113 – Adam Engel of the White Sox (9-for-80). In the NL, that dubious spot on the BA list went to Dominic Smith of the Mets at .164 (11-for-67).

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 18; Rhys Hoskins, Phillies & Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 11

AL: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, Gary Sanchez, Yankees & Manny Machado, Orioles – 12

RBI

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 37; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 31; Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 30

AL: Manny Machado, Orioles – 35; Adrian Beltre, Rangers – 30; Justin Upton, Tigers & Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 27

Runs Scored

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 28; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 27; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 26

AL: Tim Beckham, Orioles & Brian Dozier, Twins – 27; Mike Trout, Angels – 26

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds – 11; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 10; Starling Marte, Pirates – 7

AL: Rajai Davis, A’s, Whit Merrifield, Royals & Andrew Benitendi, Red Sox – 9

Walks

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 35; Eugene Suarez, Reds – 24; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 21

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 27;  Aaron Judge, Yankees – 23; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 22

A SWING AND A MISS

Nobody fanned more in August than Yankee rookie Aaron Judge with 41 whiffs in 92 at bats. Over in the NL, the Phillies’ Nick Williams led the swing-and-miss parade with 37 strikeouts in 106 at bats.

—–INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST—–

Wins

NL:  Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 4-1, 1.21; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 4-1, 2.23; Jeff Samardzija, Giants – 4-1, 3.05; Zach Davies, Brewers, 4-2, 2.06; Pat Corbin, D-backs – 4-2, 2.52

AL:  Trevor Bauer,  Indians 5-0, 2.32; Corey Kluber, Indians – 5-1, 1.96; Rick Porcello, Red Sox – 5-1, 4.04; Martin Perez, Rangers – 5-1, 4.19

ERA (Minimum 25 June innings)

NL:  Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 1.21; Mike Montgomery, Cubs – 1.73; Zach Davies, Brewers – 2.06

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 1.96; Dylan Bundy, Oriole – 2.00; Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox – 2.28

Ouch!

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in August went to the Phillies’ Nick Pivetta, who put up a 11.57 ERA  and a 1-3 record in five August starts.  In the AL, given those parameters, the highest ERA goes to Ian Kennedy of the Royals (0-4, 9.57).  On the other side of the coin, the most innings pitched by a hurler with an August ERA of 0.00 was 15 1/3 by Brewers’ closer Corey Knebel. 

Strikeouts

NL: Jacob deGrom, Mets – 44 (39 IP); Patrick Corbin, D-backs – 42 (39 1/3 IP); two with 39

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 54 (46 IP); Chris Sale, Red Sox – 53 (37 IP);  Justin Verlander, Tigers – 50 (42 IP)

Saves

NL:  Corey Knebel, Brewers – 13; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 12; Brad Zeigler, Marlins & Sean Doolittle, Nationals – 9

AL: Edwin Diaz, Mariners & Alex Colome, Rays – 10; Robert Osuna, Blue Jays – 9

______________________________________________________

NOW, A LOOK AT THE STANDINGS AS OF (END OF DAY) AUGUST 31

AND THEN THE YEAR-TO-DATE (THROUGH AUGUST 31) TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL STATS

aUGUSTSTD

______________________________________________

NOW FOR ALL YOU STAT LOVERS, HERE WE GO.

—–TEAM BATTING LEADERS THROUGH AUGUST—–

Average (MLB Average – .255)

NL: Rockies – .273; Nationals – .272; Marlins – .265

AL: Astros – .284; Orioles – .268; Red Sox – .261

TALLY-HO

The Orioles have the top batting average with runners in scoring position through August at .303 (the only team over .300). The NL lead in average with runners in scoring position is shared by the Rockies and Nationals at .297.

Runs Scored: (MLB average – 621)

NL: Nationals – 704; Rockies – 681; Cubs – 675

AL: Astros – 735; Yankees – 689; Rangers – 672

 TALLY-NO!

The Padres have plated the fewest runs through August (509). At the bottom of the AL, you’ll find the White Sox at 567.

Toronto has the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position (through August) at .222. The Padres are at the bottom of the NL at .228. (MLB average – .260)

The Giants have proven the most power challenged with an MLB-low 104 home runs through August – 101 behind MLB leader Baltimore.  Boston has the fewest round trippers in the AL at 140.

Home Runs (MLB Average – 169)

NL: Mets & Cubs – 193; Brewers – 192

AL:  Orioles – 205; Rangers & Astros -204

 SWINGING ON THE AIR WAVES

Brewers’ batters are “hitting the air waves” this season, with 1,314 strikeouts through August. The AL leader is the Rays, with 1,287. 

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 70)

NL: Brewers – 107; Reds – 103; Nationals – 88

AL: Angels – 115; Rangers – 102; Red Sox – 90

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH AUGUST  —–

ERA (MLB average – 4.35)

NL: Dodgers – 3.20; D-backs – 3.64; Nationals – 3.89

AL: Indians –  3.57; Red Sox 3.71; Yankees – 3.81

HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?

The Dodgers boast MLB’s best relief ERA through August at 2.90, but the Indians aren’t far behind at 3.01. The Tigers have the only bullpen ERA over 5.00 at 5.20.

The Dodgers’ staff also has the best starting rotation ERA at 3.38. Clevand is best in the AL at 3.87.  Each league’s worst starters’ ERA?  The Reds (5.87) and Orioles (5.59).

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 621)

NL: Dodgers – 447; D-backs –  543; Nationals – 557

AL: Indians – 496; Red Sox – 553; Yankees – 560

WILD AND CRAZY

Through August, no team’s staff has hit more batters than the Padres with 44 HBP.  The Astros top the AL with 43 HBP.  San Diego also tops the NL with 44 wild pitches, second in MLB to the A’s 48. The Giants’ staff goes easy on hitters – they are the only team with less than 20 HBP (18).  Most often victimized? Pirates’ hitters have been plunked an MLB-leading 75 times; while Nationals’ batters have spent the least time rubbing out pain – being hit just twenty times (no other team has suffered fewer than 30 HBP). 

Strikeouts (MLB average – 1,097)

NL: Dodgers – 1,251; D-backs – 1,225; Nationals – 1,189

AL: Astros – 1,315; Indians – 1,312; Red Sox – 1,273

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB average – 434)

NL: Dodgers – 356; Cardinals – 399; Nationals & Pirates – 405

AL:  Indians – 349; Red Sox – 373; Angels – 391

Saves (MLB Average – 33)

NL: Brewers – 46; Dodgers – 43; Rockies – 41

AL: Rays – 46; Blue Jays – 38; Twins – 37

BONUS STAT – HAVE AN OUT ON US

The Oakland A’s have given away the most free outs (errors made) this season at 105. Over in the NL that dubious distinction goes to the Brewers at 97. (MLB average – 78 errors.) The Royals and Rockies have committed the fewest errors through August (59) – and share the best fielding percentage at .988

__________________________________

ENOUGH OF TEAM STATS, LET’S MOVE ON TO …

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICAL LEADERS THROUGH AUGUST 31

Batting Average

NL:  Charlie Blackmon, Rockies- .339; Justin Turner, Dodgers – .327; Bryce Harper, Nationals – .326

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros –  .355; Avisail, Garcia, White Sox – .324; Eric Hosmer, Royals – .318

EVERY COIN HAS TWO SIDES

The lowest average through August (minimum 250 at bats) belongs to the Rays’ Danny Espinosa at .164 (41-for-250).  The Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber has the NL’s bottom spot at .199 (72-for-362). Just five  players with at least 250 at bats are under the Mendoza line. In addition to Espinosa and Schwarber, that list includes the: Rangers’ Mike Napoli (.195); Rays’ Brad Miller (.196); Royals’ Alex Gordon (.199).    

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 51; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers & Joey Votto, Reds – 34

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 37; Khris Davis, A’s, Joey Gallo, Rangers & Khris Davis, A’s – 36

LIKE FREE SWINGERS?

Three MLB players – all in the AL – have fanned at least 170 times this season: Aaron Judge, Yankees (176); Khris Davis, A’s (175); Miguel Sano, Twins (170). Note: Those three have been productive despite the whiffs, with a combined stat line of  .258-101-250.

RBI

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 111; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 110; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 109

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 101; Johnathon Schoop, Orioles – 100; Justin Upton, Tigers/Angels – 94

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 120; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 103; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 100

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 99; George Springer, Astros – 92; Jose Altuve, Astros – 89

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds – 55; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 48; Trea Turner, Nationals – 37

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels & Jose Altuve, Astros – 29; Rajai Davis, A’s & Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 28

Walks

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 113; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 89; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 85

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 99; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 89; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – 74.

JUST WAVE ‘EM OVER

No player has drawn more intentional walks this season then the D-backs’ Paul Goldschmidt  and Reds’ Joey Votto – each with 14. Mike Trout of the Angels leads the AL with 13.

—–PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH THE MONTH OF AUGUST—–

Wins

NL:   Zack Greinke, D-backs – 16-6, 3.08Zach Davies, Brewers – 16-7, 3.85; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 15-2, 2.04

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 15-6, 2.77; four with 14

ERA (Minimum 125 innings)

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.04; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.21; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 2.58

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 2.63; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.77; Marcos Stroman, Blue Jays – 3.11

BANG ‘EM HIGH

The Mariners’ Ariel Miranda gave up the most home runs through August at 35 (150 1/3 IP). The NL leader is the Cubs’ John Lackey (32 in 141 IP). 

The highest opponents’ batting average  (at least 100 IP) belongs to the Twins’ (and Braves’) Bartolo Colon (.327). The only other pitchers with a Batting Average Against of .300+ are the Giants’ Matt Cain (.316); Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman (.312); Padres’ Clayton Richard (.309);  Rangers’ Martin Perez (.304) and Twins’ Kyle Gibson (.303).

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 230 (167 1/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 206 (178 2/3 IP); Zack Greinke, D-backs – 188 (172 1/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 264 (185 1/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 225 (179 1/3 IP); Corey Kluber, Indians – 215 (160 2/3 IP)

K’S PER NINE

Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched, the Red Sox’ Chris Sale has fanned an MLB-best 12.8 batters per nine innings through August. The NL leader is the Nationals’ Max Scherzer at 12.4. The only other pitcher to fan at least 12 per nine innings is the Indians’ Corey Kluber at 12.0.

Saves

NL:  Greg Holland Rockies – 36; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 35;  Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 34

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 40; Robert Osuna, Blue Jays – 35; Craig Kimbrel Red Sox – 31

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

Jim Johnson of the Braves leads MLB in blown saves through August at nine (in 31 opportunities). The AL leader is the Blue Jays’ Robert Osuma with eight (43 opportunities).

 

Primary Resources: ESPN.com; MLB.com; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com; StarTribune.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

Today’s Game … Free-Swinging/Hard-Throwing

There is no doubt today’s game is becoming both more hard-throwing and more-free swinging.  Earlier this month, I posted the chart below to show the rise of strikeouts per game over the years (more than double since 1950.   Now, below the chart, I offer some more evidence of the  nature of the new ball game.

kcHART

I’m working on a similar chart for home runs, but the trend appears to be similar. In 1950, fans saw an average of about 1.7 home runs per game (both teams combined) – 130 home runs per team over a 154-game season.  This season, fans have been seeing an average of just over 2.5 home runs per game – with MLB on a pace toward a season average of 205 home runs per team.

This free-swinging/hard-hitting trend shows up in other aspects of the game.  So far this August, we have seen seen three Immaculate Innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches) – bringing the total number of 2017 Immaculate Innings to an MLB single-season record eight – breaking the 2014 record of seven with more than a month to go.  (In fact, there have been only four SEASONS in MLB history with more Immaczulate Innings than we have seen so far this August – and that includes 2017.) Your 2017 Immaculate frames go to: Drew Storen, Reds (April 18); Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (May 11); Max Scherzer, Nationals (May 15); Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (May 18); Carlos Carrasco, Indians, (July 7); Dellin Betances, Yankees (August 2); Jose Alvarado, Rays (August 4); Rick Porcello, Red Sox (August 9).   Notably, in MLB history, there has been only one other season with as many as five Immaculate Innings (1998) and of the 89 Immaculate innings recorded, 40 have taken place since 2000.  Here’s the list by decade;

                                    IMMACULATE INNINGS

                                   1880s – 1            1960s – 8

                                   1890s – 0           1970s – 8

                                    1900s – 1           1980s – 4

                                    1910s – 1            1990s – 18

                                    1920s – 5           2000s – 15

                                    1930s – 0           2010s – 25

                                    1940s – 0

                                     1950s – 3

A few other Immaculate Inning tidbits:

  • Only four pitchers have thrown multiple Immacualte Innings: Lefty Grove; Sandy Koufax; Nolan Ryan; Randy Johnson.

    Sandy Koufax logged a record three immaculate innings.

    Sandy Koufax logged a record three immaculate innings.

  • Only Sandy Koufax has three such innings – one each in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
  • Lefty Grove is the only pitcher to throw two immaculate innings in the same season (August 23 and September 27, 1928).
  • Nolan Ryan is the only pitcher to theow an Immacutalte Innings in both the Ameerican and National League (Mets, 1968 – Angels, 1972).
  • The only World Series Immaculate Inning belongs to the Royals’ Danny Jackson (Game 5 of the 1985 Series).
  • The only players to come right out of the box and fire an Immaculate Inning in the first frame are: Sandy Koufax (1962); Roger Clemens (1997); Pedro Martinez (2002); Rick Helling (2006); Rich Harden (2008).
  • There have been only two Immaculate Innings in extra innigs: Sloppy Thurston (12th inning, August 22, 1923); Juan Perez (10th inning, July 8, 2011.)
  • More Immaculate Innings have taken place in the ninth ining (20) than any other frame.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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MLB Players Weekend – A Four-Star Production

http://Embed from Getty Images

Let me start by admitting I can be a bit “old school” when it comes to the national pastime. I am:

  • Not fond of the DH (and believe it ought to stand for the disappearing DoubleHeader;
  • Prefer high socks to pajama pants;
  • Oppose waving a batter to first on an intentional walk;
  • Would take a well-turned double play over a pair of strikeouts and a triple over a 450-foot home run;
  • Would rather have a spirited debate than wait for a challenge decision;
  • Am more interested in how far a baseball travelled than its exit velocity and angle;
  • Like to see pitchers and hitters adjust to an umpire’s stike zone;
  • Would always choose outdoor over indoor baseball.

You get the idea.

However, I was pleased by the color, excitement and sense of “play” brought to the game by the MLB Players Weekend – more colorful uniforms and caps; personalized socks, bats and batting gloves: the MLB Players Weekend logo (from Little League to the “Bigs.”); tribute patches; nicknames on the backs of uniforms; and charity connections. All of this, I believe created more excitement, particularly for young fans and reminded us all that it’s still a game.   That, I believe, is  a good thing for baseball.

My favorite part of the promotion was the (player-chosen) nicknames on the uniforms.  There were some great ones: Josh Donaldson – Bringer of Rain;  Kendall Graveman – Digger (my nickname in my playing days); Robert Osuna – No Panic; Aaron Judge – All Rise; Chih-Wei Hu – Who?; Dustin Pedroia – Laser Show; Kenley Jansen – Kenleyfornia; Trevor Bauer – Bauer Outage; Ian Kinsler – Bootsie (Is that good for an infielder?); Yasiel Puig – Wild Horse.  And then, of course, there were those who used already well-established nicknames, like: Moose Moustakas; Mad-Bum Bumgarrner; Joey Bats Bautista; Miggy Cabrera.   Others, like Jason Motte (J Motte) used their first initial and last name and still other used just their first name (Matt Kemp; Koji Euhara; Homer Baily (still an unfortunate name for a pitcher).

Finally, there were those business-as-usual players who simply used their last name. In this post, I’d like to provide a list of my favorite nickname from each team, as well as suggestions for a few of the players who chose not to choose a nickname for the weekend.

MY FAVORITE PLAYERS WEEKEND NICKNAMES

     Arizona Diamondbacks – Chris Herrmann – Herm the Worm

     Atlanta Braves – Brandon Phillips – Dat Dude

     Baltimore Orioles – Manny Machado – Mr. Miami

     Boston Red Sox – Brock Holt – Brock Star

     Chicago Cubs – Justin Grimm – Reaper

     Chicago White Sox – Yoan Moncada – Yo Yo

     Cincinnati Reds – Michael Lorenzen – Zen Master

     Colorado Rockies – Charlie Blackmon – Chuck Nazty

     Cleveland Indians – Carlos Santana – Slamtana

     Detroit Tigers – Mike Mahtook – Night Hawk

     Houston Astros – Carlos Correa – Showrrea

     Kansas City Royals – Brandon Mauer – Mauer Power

     Los Angeles Angels – Albert Pujols – The Machine

     Los Angeles Dodgers – Curtis Granderson – Grandyman

     Miami Marlins – Jarlin Garcia – Jarlin the Marlin

     Milwaukee Brewers – Josh Hader – Haderade

     Minnesota Twins – Max Kepler – Rozycki

     New York Mets – Noah Syndergaard – Thor

     New York Yankees – Todd Frazier – Toddfather

     Oakland A’s – Chris Smith – Rock N Fire

     Philadelphia Phillies – Tommy Joseph – Tojo

     Pittsburgh Pirates – Gerritt Cole – Cole Train

     St. Louis Cardinals – Carlos Martinez – Tsunami

     San Diego Padres – Chase d’Arnaud – Cheetah

     San Francisco Giants – Pablo Sandoval – Panda

     Seattle Mariners – Nelson Cruz – Boomstick

     Tampa Bay Rays – Steve Cishek – Speedpass

     Texas Rangers – A.J. Griffin – Sweet Lettuce

     Toronto Blue Jays – Josh Donaldson – Bringer of Rain

     Washington Nationals – Bryce Harper – Big Kid

There were plenty of players who stayed “old school” and just went with their last names on thier uniform backs. Here are suggestions for next year for just a few of those:

Brett Gardner, Yankees – Old School (Gardner said he was “not a big fan” of the loosening of uniform rules)

Corey Gearrin, Giants – Gear Daddy

Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks – Grain-Man

Marco Gonzales, Cardinals – Polo

Mitch Haniger, Mariners – Handyman

Greg Holland, Rockies – Dutch Master

Scott Kazmir, Dodgers – Great Scott

Dallas Keuchel, Astros – Big K

Josh Lindblom, Pirartes – Kim Chee (Played in Korea)

Mike Minor, Royals – M & M’s

Gift Ngoepe – Gift is great on its own

Pat Neshek, Rockies – Collector (Memorabilia and autograph collector)

Dovydas Neverauskas – Scrabble

Daniel Nava, Phillies – Not Nova (See below)

Aaron Nola – Not Nava (See above)

Paulo Orlando, Royals – Three Bags Full (first three MLB hits were triples)

Cameron Perkins, Phillies – Pancakes

Ryan Schimpf – Etouffe

Corey Seager, Dodgers – Kyle’s Brother ()nly fair, Kyle used Corey’s Brother)

Tony Sipp, Astros – Big Gulp

Seth Smith, Diamondbacks – Little Eli (Backed up Eli Manning at Ole Miss)

George Springer, Astros – Slinky (The ultimate spring)

Matt Szczur,Padres – Scissors

Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks – 76

Scott Van Slyke, Reds – Family Business (son of former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke)

All in all a great weekend for MLB and the fans. Looking forward to next year.

 

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“Whiff”-le” Ball – Judge’s Record and a Look at the Other Side

Thirty-two MLB hitters have already struck out more times this season than Joe Sewell did in his  14-season (1920-33), 1,903-game major league career.

Aaron Judge baseball photo

Photo by apardavila

Yankees’ rookie phenom Aaron Judge – as most fans know – has set a new single-season  major league record for consecutive games with a strike out (for non-pitchers) at 37 (July 8 – August 20); topping Adam Dunn’s 2012 record of 32. (Judge’s streak ended yesterday.)  Judge also broke pitcher Bill Stoneman’s overall single-single season (1971) record for consecutive games played with a strikeout (35) and tied Stoneman’s record for consecutive games played with strikeout (over more than one season) of 37.

 

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

SewellIn 1929, Indians’ 3B Joe Sewell played an MLB (modern) record 115 consecutive games without striking out (May 19-September 19).  During his 115-game streak, Sewell racked up 436 at bats and 143 hits (.328), with 27 doubles, two triples, seven HR and 56 RBI.   On the season, Sewell fanned just four times in 578 at bats – and it wasn’t even his best campaign in terms of at bats/per whiff.   That would be 1932, when Sewell struck out just three times in 503 at bats.  For his career, Sewell fanned 114 times in 7,132 at bats – or once each 62.6 at bats. That puts Sewell second on the career list (among players who played after 1900) to Wee Willie Keeler, who fanned just once every 63.2 at bats in 19 MLB seasons (1892-1910).

 

Judge stopped his streak the hard way (at least for a free swinger) – with patience at the plate.  He came to the plate four times and recorded a single and three walks. Judge was pulled from the contest in the top of the seventh inning (pinch-hitter Jacob Ellsbury) with the Bronx Bombers up 11-1. During the whiff streak, Judge hit .176 (23-for-131), with eight home runs, 16 runs scored, 14 RBI, 31 walks and 63 strikeouts.  Before, we get too critical, however, let’s keep in mind that Judge (season-to-date) is hitting .284, with an AL-leading 37 home runs, 81 RBI, a league-leading 93 runs scored and a league-high 93 walks. Suddenly, those strikeouts (Judge has 167 on the season, second only to the Twins’ Miguel Sano at 170) don’t seem so important.

Woulda – Coulda – Shoulda

Aaron Judge’s best chance to end his record-setting consecutive games with a strikeout streak early may have come in Minnesota on July 19 (Whiff Game Number Nine), when his only plate appearance came as a pinch hitter with one out in the top of the ninth and the Yankees down 6-1. Twins’ reliever Trevor Hildenberger fanned Judge on three pitches (two fouls and a swinging strike).

The year Adam Dunn set the previous position player record for consecutive games with a strikeout (2012), he hit .204, with 41 home runs and 96 RBI (and, like Judge, was selected to the All Star team). During his 32-game whiff streak, Dunn hit .243 (27-for-111), with 10 home runs, 25 RBI, 19 runs scored, 25 walks and 47 strikeouts.   That season, Dunn struck out 222 times, one short of Mark Reynolds’ 2009 record.

ROLLING A 200

Five hitters have fanned 200 or more times in a season.  Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks) was the first, with 204 strikeouts in 2008 … and also leads the pack with three such seasons (consecutively).

Mark Reynolds, D-backs, 2009                       223

Adam Dunn, White Sox, 2012*                        222

Chris Davis, Orioles, 2016                                 219

Chris Carter, Astros, 2013                                 212

Mark Reynolds, D-backs, 2010                        211

Chris Davis, Orioles, 2015                                  208

Chris Carter, Brewers, 2016                              206

Drew Stubbs, Reds, 2011                                     205

Mark Reynolds, D-backs, 2008                        204

 

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DH? We(s) Don’t Need No Stinkin’ DH!

Albers made his MLB debut with the Twins. Yesterday, he notched his first tjhree plate appearances with the Mariners - a single and TWO successfuy sacrifice buns.

Albers made his MLB debut with the Twins. Yesterday, he notched his first tjhree plate appearances –  with the Mariners – a single and TWO successful sacrifice buns.

Yesterday (August 21), 31-year-old southpaw Andrew Albers –  who has had an up and down professional career (150 minor league appearances and 19 major league appearances since 2008) – had a truly “up” day. Traded to the Mariners (for cash considerations) on August 11, Albers drew his second start of the season (his first time out for the Mariners, he gave up one run in five innings and got the victory in a 3-1 win over the Orioles). This time, he faced the Braves and – while he wasn’t as effective – picked up his second MB win of 2017. He again went five innings, this time giving up three earned runs as the Mariners won 6-5.  The two victories doubled his career total. Albers now stands at 4-5, 4.32 in 19 appearances (four starts) for the Twins, Blue Jays and Mariners. Note: Albers was 12-3, 2.61 at Triple A before the trade.

What made this a truly up day for Albers, however, was his performance at the plate.  In his first at bat – also his first MLB plate appearance – Albers collected an infield single and an RBI. He came up twice more in the game, each time successfully sacrificing a base runner from first to second.  Given the state of bunting I’ve seen recently, Albers deserves perhaps even greater kudos for the two sacrifices than for the infield single.  At any rate, he ended the game with his 1.000 batting average and his 2017 1.000 winning percentage intact.

WES FERRELL DIDN’T NEED NO STINKIN’ DH

FerrellReading about Albers feats in the batter’s box reminded me of how much I dislike the Designated Hitter – as well as what a solid batsman pitcher Wes Ferrell was. (No, I’m not old enough to have actually seen him play.) On today’s date (August 22) in 1934, Ferrell ran his season record to 12-2, with a ten-inning, two-run (one earned) complete game against the White Sox. Like Albers, Ferrell’s performance in the batter’s box may have exceeded his pitching accomplishments. Ferrell went three-for-four in the game, scoring two and driving in two.  And, he did it in spectacular fashion.  Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth (the game was at Fenway), Ferrell homered to tie the contest. Then, with two-out in the bottom of the tenth, the Red Sox’ right-hander went deep again to win the contest.  It was one of three walk-off home runs Ferrell would rap in his career – and one of five multi-homer games he would achieve.

Ferrell, in fact, holds the MLB record for home runs as a pitcher with 37 (he also had one as a pinch hitter), and his career line (548 games) was .280-38-208.  Ferrell logged some great years in there – on the mound and in the batter’s box.

In 1935, fort example, Ferrell led the AL in pitching victories, going 25-14, 3.52. He also topped the junior circuit in complete games (31) and innings pitched (322 1/3). At the plate, he hit a lusty .347, with seven home runs and 32 RBI in 150 at bats. He also had 21 walks against just 16 strikeouts.

A few other Farrell tidbits:

  • Ferrell topped twenty wins in each of his first four full MLB seasons (1929-32 … He did have a total of three appearances in 1927-28 call ups). In those first four full campaigns, he went 21-10, 3.60; 25-13, 3.31; 22-12, 3.75; 23-13. 3.66.
  • Ferrell had a total of six seasons of 20+ wins – and led the AL in complete games four times.
  • He was a two-time All Star.

SHOWING OFF ALL THE SKILLS

On April 29, 1931 Wes Ferrell of the Indians no-hit the St. Louis Browns 9-0 in Cleveland. Ferrell gave up three walks and fanned eight in the contest. He also rapped a two-run double and a two-run home run, finishing the day two-for-four with two runs scored and four RBI. On the season, Ferrell went 22-12, 3.75 with a league-leading 27 complete games, while also hitting .319, with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 116 at bats.

  • Farrell holds the single-season (nine) and career (37) records for home runs as a pitcher.
  • Farrell hit an MLB career-high .347 for the Red Sox in 1935.
  • Wes’ brother Rick Ferrell, a major league catcher for 18 seasons (.303-28-734).  is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Wes and Rick were together on the Boston Red Sox from 1934-37.

NEVER A QUITTER …ALWAYS A HTTER

After his major league playing days were over, Ferrell continued to play minor league ball – primarily as an outfielder.  His best seasons as he closed out his professional career:

  • 1941 … Hitting .332 with 20 home runs for the Leaksville-Draper-Spray Triplets of the Bi-State (Class D) League;
  • 1942 … Hitting.361 with 31 home runs for the Lynchburg Senators of the Class C Virginia League;
  • 1948, at the age of 40, hitting .425, with 24 home runs in 104 games for the Marion Marauders of the Class D Western Carolina League.

Ferrell finally hung up his spikes as a player after the 1949 season, when he hit .298, with four homes in 50 games for Class B teams in Tampa and Greensboro.

Ferrell’s final pitching line was 193-128. 4.04.  It might have been even better if not for shoulder troubles that began in 1931 and limited is ability to use his “plus” fastball and the fact that he spent much of his career pitching for middle-of-pack teams. Still, retired with a .601 MLB winning percentage.

Primary Sources: Baseball-Reference.com; MLB.com; Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Almanac.com.

 

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Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Mike Trout – Sharing a Long Ball Legacy (kinda)

Posting this a little late:  It was Twins’ Hall of Fame Day and the boys put up twelve tallies.

Mike Trout - Six Straight Seasons of 25 or more home runs. Photo by Keith Allison

Mike Trout –
Six Straight Seasons of 25 or more home runs.
Photo by Keith Allison

On Saturday (August 19), Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout bashed a pair of home runs (left-center and center field) as the Angels topped the Orioles 5-1 in Baltimore.  You’ve probably read plenty about how Trout became just the third MLB player to have six campaigns of 25 or more home runs before his “Age-26” season.   It should be clear by now that, in baseball, we not only keep track of pretty much everything – we also (with the advances in information technology) find unique ways to divide those statistics up to create new “first to…” or “just the third MLB player to …” categories.  For example, Trout was actually 26-years-old when he belted that qualifying 25th home run (giving him six 25+ home runs seasons before his “Age-26” season.  You see, a players’ baseball-age season is defined as the age the player is on July 1 of any specific season.  For example, Trout hit his season’s 25th home run in his Age-25 season, despite being 26 at the time. (He turned 26 on August 7, but was still 25 on July 1.)

Now, I have not made it a general practice to comment on this page on particularly unique records (think, most consecutive, two-hit games, by switch-hitters, batting left handed in June).  However, sometimes achievements come along that catch my eye or pique my interest.  In this case, Trout’s six seasons of 25 or more home runs before his Age-26 season drew me in because of the players he now shares that distinction with – Eddie Mathews (my all-time favorite player) and Frank Robinson (who holds a host of even more substantial honors). Further, while  Mathews and Robinson are both Hall of Famers, they seem an unusual pair to share a record – having “shared” one of the most renowned on-field dustups in MLB lore (more on that later).  So, let’s look at each of member of the “Six Seasons of 25 or More Home Runs before His Age-26 Season” Club – in the order they achieved the feat.

Eddie Mathews, Third Base, Boston/Milwaukee Braves (1952-57)

EddieMathews was the first member of this club – and he’s also the only one to complete his Age-25 season while still (real) age 25. (His birth date was October 31, 1931). Mathews made it to the Boston Braves in 1952 and hit .242, with 25 home runs and 58 RBI in 140 games. The following season, the Braves moved to Milwaukee and the 21-year-old Mathews came into his own – hitting .302, leading the NL with 47 home runs and driving in 135. Over the next four seasons, Mathews hit 40, 41, 37 and 32 home runs – completing the first-ever qualifying streak of six season of at least 25 home runs before age 26. Note: They didn’t really focus on this kind of thing back then, but Mathews ran off another five straight seasons of 25 or more round trippers. So, he also holds the record for seven consecutive seasons of 25 or more home runs before age 27, eight before age 28 and so on … right up to eleven before age 30. Who knows, maybe Mike Trout will keep Eddie’s name in the new for a while.

ONE OF THE GREATS TALKS ABOUT EDDIE MATHEWS

I’ve only known three or four perfect  swings in my time.  This lad has one of them.

                                                                                      Ty Cobb

Mathews played 17 major league seasons and hit .271, with 512 home runs and 1,453 RBI. He led the NL in home runs twice, hit 40 or more in a season four times and thirty or more another six times.  He was a nine-time All Star

STATISTICS OVER THE SIX SEASONS WITH 25 OR MORE HOME RUNS BEFORE AGE-26 SEASON

Eddie Mathews, Braves (1952-57) …       .281 average; 222 HRs; 586 RBI

Frank Robinson, Reds (1956-61) …          .302 average; 202 HRs; 573 RBI

Mike Trout, Angels (2011-2017)* …          .309 average; 194 HRs; 556 RBI

*As of August 19, 2017: Reasonable projection through season’s end: .311-202-580

Frank Robinson, Left Field/Center Field, Reds (1956-61)

FrankRobinson came to the Reds in 1956 as a 20-year-old rookie (he turned 21 August 31). He immediately went to work at a high level – tying the (since broken) rookie record for home runs with 38 – to go with a .290 average and 83 RBI. Robinson then ran off season home run totals of 29, 31, 36, 31 and 37 to complete the six seasons of 25+ home runs before his Age-26 campaign. He added one more season of 39 long balls, before falling to 21 dingers in 1963.

Robinson played 21 MLB seasons and was a 14-time All Star. His career average was .294, he slugged 586 home runs and drove in 1,812.  He also won nearly every MLB honor imaginable: Rookie of the Year (1956); NL MVP (1961); AL MVP (1966); AL Triple Crown (1966); World Series MVP (1966); All Star Game MVP (1971). Then he topped it off by becoming the first Black manager in the American League (Indians, 1975) and National League (Giants, 1982) and winning the AL Manager of the Year Award (1989).

THAT MAN DESERVES A STATUE … OR TWO … OR THREE

Photo by kowarski

Photo by kowarski

You’ll find bronze statues of Frank Robinson at Great America Ballpark (Reds); Oriole Ballpark at Camden Yards (Orioles): and Progressive Field (Indians) – all three teams have retired his number 20.

 

 

 

Mike Trout, Center Field, Angels (2011-17; 25+ HR streak (2012-17)

Unlike Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson, Mike Trout didn’t start his Six Seasons of 25 or More Home Runs before  his Age-26 Season streak from his first day in the majors.  The Angels brought him up for 40 games as a 19-year-old (2011) and he hit .220-5-16.  Better things were on the way.  As a 20-year-old, he played in 139 games and hit .326, with 30 home runs, 83 RBI and a league-leading 49 stolen bases (in just 54 attempts). That earned Trout All Star honors and AL Rookie of the Year. He followed that with HR totals of 27, 36, 41. 29 and (as of August 19) 26.   For his career (to date), Trout is .309-194-556.

Barring injury, Trout seems destined to join Mathews and Robinson in the Hall of Fame.  In just five full seasons, he has won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and two AL MVP Awards (and has yet to finish lower than second in the AL MVP balloting). He’s also led the AL in runs scored four times, RBI once and stolen bases once.

A COUPLE OF SLUGGERS MEET ON THE DIAMOND

Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson are not only both Hall of Famers and members of the 500 home run club; they were both known as gritty, rough-and-tumble, 110-percent ballplayers.  And, they proved it on August 15, 1960.

The Braves were playing a double header against the Reds in Cincinnati. In Game One Mathews was at third base, batting in the three-hole – ahead of Hank Aaron. Robinson was in left field, also batting third, with Reds’ right fielder Wally Post at cleanup.

With two outs and no one on in the seventh (and the Reds up 5-3) Robinson tried to stretch a double into a triple.  (There are conflicting reports about whether the ball was hit to the right side or left side. (Baseball Reference says LF, while Mathews, in his own book Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime, and Bob Buege in his book, The Milwaukee Braves – A Baseball Eulogy, says it went to the right side.  There is no disagreement, however, on the mayhem that followed.

Robinson slid hard into third, his arm hitting Mathews on the side of the head.  Mathews placed a heavy tag on the Reds’ runner – words were exchanged (very briefly) before blows were landed. (In his book, Mathews notes that “He (Robinson) was not a dirty player, but he could be rough.  Sometimes he was too aggressive.”    He also indicated he and Robinson had had run-ins before. (On a side note: Mathews himself was no stranger to being labeled aggressive). By all accounts, Mathews – who had a reputation for being both quick and good with his fists – got the better of the deal. He was relatively unmarked, but Robinson suffered a jammed thumb, bloody nose and badly swollen eye.  Later Braves’ Hall of Fame pitcher Warrant Spahn would say “Eddie hit him with three punched not even Muhammad Al could have stopped.”  Click here to see a photo from the press coverage.

In the end, Mathews was ejected and Robinson left the field holding a bloody towel to his face. Side note: Gus Bell came in to replace Robinson.  It was more complicated for the Braves. 2b Mel Roach moved to 3B; Hank Aaron moved from CF to 2B; and Al Spangler took over for Aaron in CF. Just a few names from the past for my fellow oldsters.

While Mathews may have won the battle, Robinson appeared to win the war.  The Reds won Game One 5-3. The gritty Robinson was back in left and batting cleanup – nose still bleeding occasionally and one eye nearly swollen shut – in Game Two. The Reds took that game as well, by a 4-0 score. Robinson led the way with a home run and a double and also robbed Mathews of an extra base hit with a fine fielding play.

—–EDDIE MATHEWS WAS INDEED A SLUGGER—–

What teammates had to say about Mathews:

“I didn’t mind starting fights. Mathews was always there to finish them for me.”

                                                                               Johnny Logan, Shortstop

“All I remember is that it was very comforting, not trying to hit anyone, but if you wanted to pitch inside, you didn’t have to worry about (the batter) making it to the mound with Eddie at third.”

                                                                              Tony Cloninger, Pitcher

Primary Sources: Basseball-Reference.com; MLB.com; Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime; Society For American Baseball Research (SABR).

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With A Little Help From My Friends … Double-Digit RBI Games

There are a host of baseball “feats” that get plenty of recognition and publicity. You know what I’m talking about – accomplishments like perfect games, four-homer games, no-hitters and two Grand Slams in a game.  Baseball Roundtable would like to dedicate this post to an achievement I believe has not gained the notoriety it deserves – reaching double-digits in RBI in a single contest.  (Along the way, I’ll drop in a few trivia tidbits about the achievements mentioned in this list. Below is the first of those.)

A TRULY  “COMPLETE” GAME

The first National Leaguer to hit two Grand Slams in a single game was Atlanta Braves’ PITCHER Tony Cloninger. On July 3, 1966, Cloninger banged out two Grand Slam home runs (first and fourth innings) and a run-scoring single (eighth inning) – while pitching a complete-game 17-3 win over the Giants in San Francisco. Cloninger did not make the double-digit RBI list, however, coming up just short with nine RBI on the day (still an MLB record for pitchers).

Anthony Rendon - joined the Double-Digit RBI Club this season. Photo by Keith Allison

Anthony Rendon –
joined the Double-Digit RBI Club this season.
Photo by Keith Allison

Let’s start by adding a bit of perspective.  There have been 23 perfect games tossed in MLB history; we’ve seen 17 four-home-run games; and 13 players have smashed two Grand Slams in a single contest.  These are rare accomplishments.

Double-digit RBI in one game?  A total of 15 players have driven home ten or more runs in a game – and only two have reached the MLB-record 12 RBI in a single contest (both Cardinals, by the way).  This season is somewhat unique – and a good time to look at this accomplishment – in that it is the first MLB season to see two ten-RBI performances: Anthony Rendon and Scooter Gennett.

How tough is it to make it onto the 10+ RBI list? Only three of the 13 players to hit two Grand Slams in a game made the cut; and only two of the players to smash four home runs in a game are on the list. The fact is, you need a little help from your friends to plate ten “ducks” in a game.  There have to be plenty of teammates on base for your at bats.

Before we get into the details of each double-digit RBI performance, a few tidbits.

  • The youngest player with double-digit RBI in a game is the A’s Reggie Jackson at 23-years, two-months and one-day (1969); the oldest is the Angels’ Garrett Anderson at 35 (2007).
  • Home field may provide a bit of advantage – nine times the feat has been achieved at home, six times on the road.
  • The only MLB player to reach ten or more RBI in a game without hitting a home run also was the first to ever notch a double-digit RBI game – Wilbert Robinson (Orioles of the NL) in 1892. He went seven-for-seven with six singles and double, while driving in eleven tallies. Since 1900, the Giants’ Phil Weintraub (1944) came closest to a no-homer, ten-RBI game with just one dinger on his big day.
  • Games on the list include two four-homer contests; seven three-homer games; four two homer performances; one one-homer game; and one game without a long ball.
  • The double-digit RBI games include eleven Grand Slams – including a record-tying two Grand Slams in a game by Tony Lazzeri (1936); Rudy York (1946); and Nomar Garciaparra (1999).
  • First basemen lead the double-digit RBI club, with four members. Next comes CF, LF, 3B and C with two each. RF, 2B and SS are each represented once. Pitchers and Designated hitters are absent.
  • As you might expect, cleanup hitters are the most represented on this list – six of the fourteen spots. The lowest spot in the order is the eight-hole. Tony Lazzeri (1936) and Wilbert Robinson (1892) got their double-digit RBI despite batting right in front of the pitcher.
  • The Red Sox have had three players have had achieve a double-digit RBI game. Next, with two, are Yankees, Cardinals and Reds.
  • Wilbert Robinson had the fewest home runs and RBI in the season he achieved a double-digit RBI game – two homers and 57 RB in 90 games. Since 1900, Phil Weintraub had the fewest home runs and RBI in a season that included a double-digit RBI game – 13 and 77, respectively.
  • The most runs scored in any of the double-digit RBI games is 26 (Giants over Dodgers 26-8 in 1944); the fewest is 12 (Both 12-4 finals: Red Sox over Mariners in 1999 and Yankees over Angels 2005). The games include one shutout (16-0 – Red Sox over Senators in 1955).
  • No team with a player recording a double-digit RBI game has ever lost the contest.

Now, let’s take a look at each of these remarkable offensive outbursts.

—–TWELVE RBI IN A GAME—–

Mark Whiten, CF, Cardinals (versus Reds) … September 7, 1993

whitenWhiten tied the MLB single-game RBI record in a game in which he also joined the elite group of hitters with four home runs in a game.  Whiten came into the contest hitting .248, with 18 home runs and 75 RBI – and finished the day at .254-22-87.  As the Cardinals topped the Reds 15-2 in Cincinnati, Whiten’s day went: First inning – Grand Slam; fourth inning – foul out; sixth inning – three-run homer; seventh inning – three-run home run; ninth inning – two-run home run.

Whiten ended the 1993 season with a .253 average, 25 home runs and 99 RBI (the HR’s and RBI proved to be career highs). He had a .259-105-423 stat line in an 11-season MLB career.

 

 

Jim Bottomley, 1B, Cardinals (versus Brooklyn Robins) … September 16, 1924

BottomleyBottomley became the first player to reach 12 RBI in a game as his Cardinals topped the Robins 17-3 in Brooklyn. His afternoon included six hits in six at bats – and went like this: First inning – two-run single; second inning – run-scoring double; fourth inning – Grand Slam; sixth-inning – two-run home run; seventh inning – two-run single; ninth inning – run-scoring single. He started the day at .318-12-92 and ended the day at .326-14-104.

Bottomley, a Hall of Famer, ended the 1924 season at .316-14-111.  It was the first of six 100+ RBI seasons for the Cardinals’ 1B, who finished a 16-season MLB career at .310-219-1,422. He led the NL in home runs once (a career-high 31 in 1928); doubles twice; triples once and RBI twice.

 

—–ELEVEN RBI IN A GAME—–

Phil Weintraub, 1B, Giants (versus Dodgers) … April 30, 1944

Weintraub gave Brooklyn fans plenty to cheer about as his Dodgers topped the Giants 26-8 at home. Weintraub, batting fifth that day, drove in 11 runs on four hits (missing the cycle by a single).   His day: First inning – two-run double; second inning – bases-loaded walk; third inning – three-run triple; fourth inning – two-run double; sixth inning – infield  fly out; eighth inning – three-run homer, Weintraub came into the game hitting .240, with no home runs and just one RBI. Since it was early in the season, his big day made a big difference, he ended the day at .33-1-12. Side note: A solid minor league hitter; Weintraub was up and down between 1933 and 1938, hitting .293 in 52 major league games. Then, from 1939 through 1943, Weintraub toiled solely in the minor leagues. In a professional career that covered 18 seasons, Weintraub played in 444 MLB games and 1,403 minor league contests (with a career minor league batting average of .337).

Weintraub hit .316-13-77 for the Giants in 1944. At age 36, it was his best season in a seven-season MLB career (It was a War year). That season, he set career highs in games played (104); hits (114); triples (9); home runs (13); and RBI (77).

Tony Lazzeri, 2B, Yankees (versus Athletics) … May 24, 1936

LazzeriLazzeri was batting in the eight-spot when he had his big 11-RBI day – as the Yankees topped the Athletics 25-2 in Philadelphia. On that day, he not only drove in 11 runs, but also became the first MLB player to hit two Grand Slams in a game.  His day went like this: Second inning – Grand Slam; fourth inning – walk; fifth inning – Grand Slam; seventh inning – solo homer; eighth inning – two-run triple. Lazzeri came into the game hitting.274, with five home runs and 27 RBI. He ended the contest at .295-8-38.  On the season, Lazzeri hit .287-14-109.

The Hall of Famer had a 14-seasaon MLB career in which he hit .292-178-1,194. While he never hit more than 18 home runs in a season, he topped 100 RBI seven times – despite most often hitting low in the Yankee order.

Wilbert Robinson, C, Baltimore Orioles (NL) versus St. Louis Browns … June 10, 1892  

Robinson,  playing catcher and batting eighth, drove in 11 runs with a seven-for-seven performance (still tied for the MLB record for hits in a nine-inning game). Robinson’s day included six singles and a double – and his Orioles topped the Saint Louis Browns 25-4.

Robinson finished the 1892 season at .267-2-57 in 90 games.  In a 17-season MLB career (1886-1902), his line was .272-18-722. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager.

SEVEN FOR SEVEN – WITH A “STROKE OF LUCK”

Wilbert Robinson had a record seven-for-seven day on June 10, 1892 – also the day he became the first member of the single-game, double-digit RBI club.  The seven hits remains the MLB record for a nine-inning game (since tied). Robinson’s seventh hit involved just a bit of luck.  Under current rules, he never would have come to the plate for the seventh at bat.

Robinson’s National League Baltimore Orioles were at home against the St. Louis Browns.  At that time, the rules afforded the home team the option of choosing to bat first or second.  The Orioles chose to hit first. Robinson’s seventh hit came with two out in the TOP of the ninth. Had the Orioles chosen to bat second, under current rules, Robinson would not have come to the plate. (He already had his then-record 11 RBI before that final at bat.)

 

—–TEN RBI IN A GAME—–

Scooter Gennett, LF, Reds (versus Cardinals) … June 6, 2017

Gennett, playing left field and batting fifth, entered the 10-RBI club with a bang – hitting an MLB single-game, record-tying four home runs in a 13-1 Reds’ win over the Cardinals. Gennett’s five-for-five day went: First inning – run-scoring single; third-inning – Grand Slam; fourth inning – two-run home run; sixth-inning – solo shot; eighth inning – two-run homer.   Gennett came into the contest hitting .270, with three home runs and 20 RBI and finished the game at .302-7-30. For more on Gennett’s big day – and other four-homer games, click here.

Gennett is in his fifth MLB season and, as of August 18, was hitting .289-20-70 – the home runs and RBI were already career highs for a season.  Over 561 career MLB games to date (August 18), Gennett’s stat line is .281-55-230.

Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals (versus Mets) … April 30, 2017

Rendon was playing 3B and batting sixth for the Nationals when he went he went six-for-six and drove in ten tallies in a 23-5 win over the Mets in Washington D.C.  Rendon started with a two-run single in the first and went on to: third inning – solo home run; fourth inning – three-run home run; fifth inning – three-run double; seventh inning – single; eighth inning – solo home run. Going into the game, Rendon was off to a low start, hitting .236 with no home runs and five RBI for April. He upped those numbers to .278-3-15.

Rendon is in his fourth MLB season and, as of August 18, was hitting .304-22-76 on the year and .279-75-304 over his first 598 MLB games.  He appears headed for a career-best batting average, home-run mark and RBI total. Note: Rendon led the league in runs scored (111) in 2014.

SO CLOSE … AND YET, SO FAR

Cardinals’ third baseman and cleanup hitter Fernando Tatis illustrates just how hard it can be to join the double-digit RBI club. On April 23, Tatis had eight RBI IN THE THIRD INNING ALONE – and still didn’t reach double-digits for the game. Tatis became the first – and still only – MLB player to hit two Grand Slams in one inning. The two long balls were his only hits on a two-for-five day. Biggest surprise for me is that Tatis hit both his four-run taters off the same pitcher –Dodgers’ starter Chan Ho Park.

Garrett Anderson, LF, Angels (versus Yankees) … August 21, 2007

AndersonGarrett Anderson’s ten-RBI day – as the Angels topped the Yankees 18-9 in Anaheim – included four extra-base hits  (two doubles and two home runs) in six at bats.  It went like this: First inning – two-run double; second inning – run-scoring double; third inning – three-run homer; fifth inning – ground out to second; sixth inning – Grand Slam; eighth inning – groundout to shortstop. Batting cleanup, Anderson came into the game with a stat line of .273-6-40 and ended the day at .281-8-50.

For the 2007 season, Anderson hit .297-16-80.  In his 17-season MLB career, he hit .293, with 287 home runs and 1,365 RBI (including four consecutive seasons – 2000 through 2003 – of 100+ RBI).  He was a three-time All Star. His best season was 2002, when he hit .306, with 29 home runs, 123 RBI and a league-leading 56 doubles.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees (versus Angels) … April 26, 2005

A-Rod was in just his second season as a Yankee when he plated ten of the Yankees’ twelve runs in a 12-4 win over the Angels in New York. Rodriguez was off to a solid start that season, coming into the late-April contest at .280-4-15.  He would end the day at .310-7-25.  It went like this: First inning – three-run home run; third inning – two-run home run; fourth inning – Grand Slam; sixth inning – two-run single; eighth inning – long fly out to deep center.  Had the last at bat – fly out to center leading off the eight – been pulled a bit more or carried just a bit farther, A-Rod could have become the first major leaguer to hit for the “Home Run Cycle” – solo, two-run, three-run and Grand Slam homer in one game.  To read about the only professional hitter to accomplish that in a game, click here.

Rodriguez ended the 2005 season at .321, with a league-leading 48 home runs and 130 RBI.  He was clearly a candidate for a ten-RBI day.  The 14-time All Star (22 MLB seasons) had a career .295 average, with 696 home runs and 2,086 RBI. He hit 30 or more homers in a season 14 times – topping 50 three times (a high of 57 in 2002). A-Rod also topped 100 RBI 14 times, with a high a 156 in 2007. His resume includes five league HR titles, two RBI titles and one batting crown.

ONCE IN A LIFETIME

I digress a bit, but this unique achievement has always intrigued me. On April 21, 2012, the White Sox’ Phil Humber pitched a perfect game – shutting down the Mariners 4-0. It was the only complete game of Humber’s eight-season MLB career (16-23, 5.31 ERA).

Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Red Sox (versus Mariners) … May 10, 1999

NomarLike Alex Rodriguez, Garciaparra’s big day saw him drive in ten of this team’s 12 runs in a 12-4 win (at home over the Mariners). Batting in the four-hole, Garciaparra’s day included three home runs in four at bats. In addition to joining the ten-RBI club, he also joined the list of players with two Grand Slams in a game.  It looked like this: First inning – Grand Slam; third inning – two-run shot; fourth inning – foul pop out; sixth inning – walk; eighth inning – Grand Slam. Garciaparra came into the game at .309-2-14 and ended at .327-5-24.

Garciaparra ended the 1999 season leading the league in batting at .357, with 27 home runs and 104 RBI. He would win a second consecutive batting title in 2000, hitting .372. A six-time All Star, Garciaparra hit .313, with 229 home runs and 939 RBI in a 14-season MLB career. He hit 30 or more homers twice, topped 100 RBI four times and also led the league in hits once (209 in 1997), doubles once (56 in 2002) and triples once (11 in 1997).

Fred Lynn, CF, Red Sox (versus Tigers) … June 18, 1975

Lynn was playing CF and batting fifth as the Red Sox trended the Tigers 15-1 on his ten-RBI day.  Lynn went five-for-six in a day that looked like this: First inning – two-run home run; second inning – three-run homer; third inning – two-run triple; fifth inning – line out to second; eighth inning- single; ninth inning – three-run home run.  Lynn came into the game with a stat line of .337-11-40, which improved to .352-14-50.

Lynn finished the 1975 season at .331-21-105 – led the AL in runs scored with 103 and captured the MVP and Rookie of the Year Awards. A nine-time All Star, Lynn hit .283-301-1,111 over 17 MLB seasons.

Reggie Jackson, RF, Athletics (versus Red Sox) … June 14, 1969

Jackson rang up two home runs, a double and two singles in six at bats, as his Oakland A’s topped the Red sox 21-7 in Boston. He came into the game hitting .246, with 20 homers and 35 RBI – and left the park at .266-22-45. His day: First inning – run-scoring double; third inning – two-run home run; fourth inning – walk; fifth inning – two-run home run; seventh inning – two-run single; eighth inning – three-run single.

The Hall of Famer finished the 1969 season at .275-47-118.  The 47 home runs was his single-season career high.  The 14-time All Star hit .262, with 563 home runs and 2,597 RBI in a 21-season MLB career. He won four league HR titles and led his league in RBI once (topping 100 RBI six times).

Norm Zauchin, 1B, Red Sox (versus Senators) … May 27, 1955

Zauchin was batting fifth for Boston in Fenway, as the Red Sox shutout the Senators 16-0.  Zauchin came into the game hitting just.214, with one home run and five RBI.  By the end of the day, his numbers would look a lot better (.247-4-15). Here’s how it looked on the fans’ scorecards: First inning – two-run home run; second inning – Grand Slam; fourth inning – run-scoring double; fifth inning – three-run home run; seventh inning – strikeout.

Zauchin hit just .239 in 1955 (the 25-year-old’s first full MLB season) and led the league with 105 strikeouts.  But he showed good power, with 27 home runs and 93 RBI.  It would, however, be the only one of his six MLB seasons that he topped 15 home runs or 37 RBI.  In those six MLB seasons, he hit .233, with 50 home runs and 159 RBI.

Walker Cooper, C, Reds (versus Cubs) … July 6, 1949

CooperCoopers’ Reds blasted the Cubs 23-4 in Cincinnati. Cooper, batting in the cleanup spot, banged out three home runs in the game – and had six hits in seven at bats.  In the game, Cooper batted in each of the Reds’ eight offensive half innings except the fifth (the Reds did not bat in the bottom of the ninth).  His day went: First inning – single; second inning – two-run single; third inning – three-run home run; fourth inning – single; sixth inning – three-run homer; seventh inning – three-run home run; eighth inning – groundout to shortstop.  Cooper started the day at .231-7-30 and finished the game at .251-10-40.

Cooper finished the 1949 season (which he started with the Giants) at .258-20-83. He was an All Star eight times in his 18-season major league career.  His career average was .285 and he hit 173 home runs and drove in 812. Cooper’s best year, by far, was with the Giants in 1947, when he hit .305, with 35 home runs and 122 RBI in 140 games. That season he achieved his career highs in games, hits (157), runs (79), triples (8) and home runs (35).

Rudy York, 1B, Red Sox (versus Browns) … July 27, 1946

York’s Red Sox toppled the Browns (in Saint Louis) by a 13-6 score on his big day at the dish. York – batting cleanup – had two Grand Slams and a double in five at bats, in a performance that went: First inning – two-run double; second inning – Grand Slam; third inning – walk; fourth inning – Grand Slam (Note: the Browns had intentionally walked Ted William to load the bases and get to York); seventh inning – strikeout; ninth inning – grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.  York came into the game with a stat line of .283-11-74 and ended the day at .287-13-84.

York ended the 1946 season with a .276 average, 17 home runs and 119 RBI.  The seven-time All Star had a career line of .275-277-1,149 over 13 MLB seasons. His best season was with the Tigers in 1943, when he hit .271 and led the AL with 34 home runs and 118 RBI. York had six seasons of 100+ RBI and four campaigns of 30+ home runs (including his 1937 rookie year, when he hit .307-35-101). Note: he did get into three games for the Tigers in a 1934 call up.

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Vic Power – Last Player to Steal Home Twice in One Contest

PowerOn this Date (August 14) in 1958, Vic Power became just the eleventh player in MLB history to steal home twice in one game – a feat that has not been accomplished since.  Amazingly, those two steals represented 67 percent of his total for the season.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s the story.

In a game against the Tigers (in Cleveland), Detroit on top of the Tribe 7-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning – but the Indians fought back. Cleveland RF Rocky Colavito started the inning with his second home run of the game (his 26th of the season). Then pinch-hitter Gary Geiger (hitting for SS Woodie Held) walked. Next up was another pinch hitter – Vic Wertz – for pitcher Morrie Martin. Wertz tied the contest with a two-run long ball.

After a Detroit pitching chang e- Bill Fischer in for Tom Morgan – Indians’ 2B Bobby Avila reached on an error by Tigers’ 1B Gail Harris. Cleveland 1B Mickey Vernon sacrificed Avila to second and Power singled him home – moving to second on an error by Detroit catcher Charlie Lau.  And, the pesky Power was just warming up. He went to third on a wild pitch by Fischer and then stole home (after a short fly out to center by catcher Russ Nixon) to run the lead to 9-7. LF Minnie Minoso was up next and was hit by a pitch and stole second before CF Larry Doby flied out to end the inning.  The Tribe bullpen, however, could not hold the two-run lead – and the Tigers tied it in the top of the ninth. That opened the door for Power’s historic second steal of home – which came in the bottom of the tenth, with the bases loaded, two outs and one of the AL’s most dependable RBI men (Rocky Colavito, with 74 driven in  on the season) at the plate.

Here’s how that tenth went. Vernon grounded out. Then, Power singled to right (his third hit of the day, raising his average to .319).  Nixon followed with another single, Power moving to second.  Minoso grounded to short, with Power moving on to third, Nixon forced at second and Minoso reaching first on the fielder’s choice.  Larry Doby was intentionally walked, loading the bases and bringing Colavito to the dish. On the fourth pitch to the Indians’ slugger, Power – who had been scampering up and down the third base line – broke for the plate and ended the game on a “run off” steal of home.

Power, by the way, was not a likely candidate to swipe home twice in a game.  Going into that August 14 tilt, he had exactly one stolen base on the season – and he did not steal a single a bag (after the two steals of home) that campaign. The fact is, he was much more likely to beat you with his glove (seven Gold Gloves) or his bat (.284 career average) than his legs. In twelve MLB seasons, Power stole just 45 bases (and was caught 35 times).  He was a four-time All Star, who collected 1,716 hits, scored 765 runs and drove in 658. Note:  I was lucky enough to see the flamboyant Power often during his two seasons with the Minnesota Twins (1962-63), when he hit .280, with 26 home runs and 115 RBI – and impressed with his smooth and flashy fielding (sweeping one-handed grabs) and the unique pendulum-like way he swung that bat (one-handed) as he waited for the pitcher to deliver.

StealChart

Stealing Home Tid Bits:

  • Ty Cobb stole home an MLB-record 54 times.
  • Ty Cobb holds the MLB and AL record with eight steals of home in a season (Tigers, 1912); Pete Reiser holds the NL record at seven (Dodgers, 1946).
  • There have been 35 “run-off” (game-ending) steals of home; the most recent by Marquis Grissom (Indians) to end Game Three of the American League Championship Series (October 11, 1997).
  • An oddity: Both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth notched double digit steals of home in their MLB careers (15 and 10, respectively). Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Maury Wills did not.

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Say It Ain’t So, Bobby – The End of Greg Maddux’ Record Run

MadduzOn this date (August 12) in 2001, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux and his Braves faced off against the hard-hitting Arizona Diamondbacks in Atlanta.  Maddux was having a typical season – taking the mound with a 15-6 record and a 2.68 ERA.   He was also in hot pursuit of Bill Fischer’s record of 84 1/3 consecutive innings pitched without issuing a walk (1962 Kansas City Athletics). Maddux’ last free pass had come on June 20th – 70 innings ago.

Little did Maddux know, as he took the mound in the bottom of the first inning, that it would be a very un-Maddux-like afternoon – and that his walkless streak would end at 72 1/3 innings (still the NL record) on the orders of manager Bobby Cox.

Over the first two innings, Maddux gave up one run, but did not look sharp.  He was touched for three singles and hit a batter – but had not issued a walk.  Then in the third inning, things really went awry, as the Diamondbacks actually batted around against “The Professor.” It went like this, SS and leadoff  hitter Greg Counsell singled and stole second; 2B Junior Spivey singled, with Counsell going to third; LF Luis Gonzalez singled, scoring Counsell and sending Spivey to third; 1B Mark Grace hit a sacrifice fly scoring Spivey (Maddux’ walkless streak now at 72 1/3 innings); and 3B Matt Williams doubled, scoring Gonzalez.

Now, with Williams on second and one out, Cox made the traditional baseball move – ordering Maddux to intentionally walk CF Steve Finley to set up the double play. With that strategic move, Maddux’ streak was over and Fischer’s MLB record was safe. The next batter, RF Danny Bautista grounded to third base – with the runners moving up.  Cox then ordered another  intentional pass, this one to C Damian Miller – bringing up the pitcher. Pitcher Albie Lopez put an end to the inning with a ground out.  (After the second intentional walk, Maddux went 11 2/3 innings before his next unintentional free pass, which would still have left him 1/3 of an inning short of Fischer’s record.)

A few side notes:

  • Maddux walked only 27 batters in 233 innings in 2001 – and ten of those were intentional.
  • Maddux walked two or more batters in just nine of his 34 starts and had 18 starts with zero walks that season.
  • Maddux had nine consecutive starts with zero walks – and did not issue a single free pass in July.
  • The two (intentional) walks in that August 12th game represented one of only three two-walk innings for Maddux all season – and one of the other two was also comprised of a pair of intentional passes.
  • Maddux finished his career with only 999 free passes (3,371 strikeouts) in 5008 1/3 innings pitched.
  • In 23 MLB seasons, Maddux averaged only 1.8 walks per nine innings and, in 1991, walked just 20 batters (six intentional) in 232 2/3 innings.
  • He ended the 2001 season 17-11, 3.05 – and had a career record of 355-227, 3.16.

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