Sunday summary

Rays 4, @Red Sox 3: Back at ya, BoSox — The day after Salty‘s come-from-behind 2-run walk-off that broke up Fernando Rodney‘s perfect record, Sean Rodriguez returned the favor (more or less), with a Monster mash in the top of the 9th off Alfredo Aceves, on a 3-1 pitch after a leadoff walk by Ben Zobrist (who’s 2nd in the league in that area). Aceves had converted 9 straight save opps after his rocky start, and hadn’t allowed a HR since the opening series. Rodney then got back in the saddle, protecting the 1-run lead with 3 straight outs, starting with a little hair o’ the dog, and finishing with his club back in a first-place tie.

  • Something had to give: Boston was averaging 6.85 R/G behind Clay Buchholz (how else do you get a 4-2 record with a 7.84 ERA?). But they faced Jeremy Hellickson, owner of the best career ERA among active AL starters (200+ IP).
  • Rodriguez’s other hit was a much closer encounter, both with the LF wall and with the tag at 2nd.

Nationals 7, @Braves 2: How competitive is the NL East? Atlanta began the week in 1st place, and had Philly won today, would have ended the week in last place after 7 straight losses. Gio Gonzalez (10 Ks, 2 R, 1 H in 7 IP) has at least 6 Ks in all 10 starts, the longest streak this season; no one else has more than 6. His 4 straight starts with 9+ Ks matches the longest such streak since 2006, when Johan Santana had 5 straight. He’s the first National to win 5 straight starts since Ramon Ortiz in 2006. And his first career RBI brought in the tying run on a sac fly in the 4th.

  • Brandon Beachy was charged with only 1 ER in 5 IP; Washington’s 2 runs in the 4th were unearned due to a dropped throw by Tyler Pastornicky on a force play at 2nd base. But Beachy laid the kindling himself by walking 2 of the first 3 men in the inning.
  • Bryce Harper — he’s still 19, by the way — had a HR and 2 hits for the 2nd straight day. He’s hit in 7 straight, going 12 for 27 with 5 walks and 3 Ks. He’s scored 20 Runs in 27 games, leading the Nats since his arrival.

@Reds 7, Rockies 5: Someone still digs the long ball: 11 of the 12 runs came from 9 HRs, 5 by the Rockies (who had no other hits), and all off the starters, Mat Latos and Jamie Moyer. It’s the 4th time in MLB history (and 2nd this year) that a team had 5 HRs on exactly 5 hits.

  • It’s the second game since the park opened in 2003 in which both teams hit 4+ HRs. There never was such a game in 32+ years in Riverfront Stadium.
  • Second game in Rockies history with 5 HRs and HRs=Runs; both were road losses.
  • Aroldis Chapman picked up a long save after cleaning up a jam in the 8th, getting 2 outs there while stranding a man at 3rd.
  • Moyer’s 209th career loss moved him past Pete Alexander and into a tie with Jerry Koosman for #37 on the career list.

@Mets 2, Padres 0: R.A. Dickey had 10 Ks, 3 hits, a walk and a HBP through 7.1 scoreless innings, but left after putting the tying runs aboard, dashing the Mets fans’ hopes of a second straight individual shutout. The last consecutive CG shutouts by Mets pitchers were in 2010, a 4-hitter by Santana and a 1-hitter by Dickey. R.A. leads the majors with 9 Quality Starts in 10 outings and is tied for the lead with 7 wins, all in QS. He’s also among the leaders with 7 strong starts (6 IP, no more than 2 runs of either flavor).

  • After setting season highs in the series opener with 11 runs and 18 hits, the Padres totaled 1 run and 11 hits in the next 3 games.
  • Nothing wrong with Yonder trying for second here, with 2 out and none on in the top of the 1st. But Jesus Guzman trying to steal 3rd, down by 2 with 1 out in the 7th and your leading HR hitter at bat? Not smart.
  • Mike Baxter‘s 20th hit was his 10th double (what else?). He’s slugging .561, without a homer. Just for laughs … The highest qualifying SLG in a homerless season was Nap Lajoie‘s .465 in 1906 (.355 BA, 48 doubles, 9 triples); he also owns the #2 mark, .462 in 1912. The highest proportion of total hits that were doubles was 42.3% by Eric Hinske in 2003 — 45 doubles out of 109 hits in 514 ABs (.243 BA).
  • Both Mets runs were set up by pitches that got past the catcher, including a WP/PB sequence that brought Baxter in from 2nd.
  • Look who suddenly holds the #1 Wild Card spot in the NL?
  • Mets record for consecutive games allowing 4 hits or less is 5, in July 2008. In that streak, all 9-inning wins, by a combined score of 24-4 with 3 shutouts, they somehow used 22 pitchers. You tell me.

Giants 3, @Marlins 2: The Melk is mighty and shall prevail. He did today, going 4-4 with a HR and 2 steals, and scoring all 3 SF runs. It was just enough for Matt Cain to win his 4th straight start (first time since 2010), with the help of 3 relievers, and give the Giants a split of the series and a winning road trip.

  • No one is surprised to see #3 hitter “M.Cabrera” at .365/.409/.553. But the precise identity of that hitter is a bit shocking — along with the fact that he leads the other guy in all three categories.
  • In his last 131 games, the Melk Man is hitting .347 (188 for 542) with 96 Runs, 41 doubles, 8 triples and 13 HRs. In his last 25 games — starting when he moved into the #3 spot to replace the injured Panda — he’s 46 for 104 (.442). And so, for the year, SF’s #3 spot is hitting a cool .390, tops in MLB.
  • Santiago Casilla is 12 for 13 in save tries as Brian Wilson’s replacement.
  • Wish I could link to a clip of Angel Pagan trying to steal home after tripling in the 9th, but MLB doesn’t have it.
  • Marlins are 18-8 in May; they need 2 wins in 3 games for the most wins in any month in club history.

Royals 4, @Orioles 2: Second straight series loss for Baltimore, who now share 1st with Tampa. Jeff Francoeur‘s HR broke a tie in the 6th, and 5 KC relievers held the O’s scoreless for the last 4.2 IP.

  • Equal time: Mocked in these pages for his slow start and lifelong refusal to take a walk, Francoeur has caught fire in the last week, going 15 for 29 with 4 HRs. (No walks, though.)
  • Billy Butler hit his 11th HR in KC’s 46th game, easily his fastest start ever; he’d never hit more than 4 by this point. His 34 RBI are also a personal best for this stage of a season.
  • Baltimore failed to homer for just the 8th time (1-7) and went 1 for 11 with RISP.
  • The O’s & Royals combined are 19-30 at home, 29-16 away. I have no ideas.

@White Sox 12, Indians 6: When is a bludgeon also a broom? The Southsiders swept the division leaders by a combined 35-16 and closed to a half-game back with their 5th straight win and 9th in 10. Today’s snot-beaten victim was Ubaldo Jimenez (7 R, 7 H, 4 BB in 4 IP), whose 21st start for the Tribe provided no further clues as to what ails him — beyond the proven fact that a pitcher who averages 6.8 walks and 5.3 SO per 9 IP simply cannot succeed.

  • Paul Konerko put the Sox ahead for good with a 3-run HR in the 4th. He’s 23 for his last 36, and his slashes — .399/.476/.681/1.157 — would all be 1st (BA) or 2nd in club history.
  • Another red-hot Pale Hose is Dayan Viciedo. His last 13 games: 7 HRs, 20 RBI, .420 BA (21 for 50). His first 31 games were horrid: .196/.530, 5 RBI and 7 Runs in 106 PAs, and just 3 walks. The hot streak hasn’t made him any more selective; he now has 4 walks in 158 PAs. He’s on pace for 34 HRs and 14 walks. No 30-HR season has ever come with less than 19 walks (Andres Galarraga, 31 HRs, 1994), and that was a strike-shortened year. As for his Viciedo’s baserunning … not for nothing is he known as The Tank; he has taken zero extra bases on others’ hits — and sometimes he can’t even keep the base he’s entitled to.
  • Triple-double: Orlando Hudson and Alejandro de Aza hit back-to-back triples in the 5th, though de Aza pulled a Meat Loaf. (You know — thrown out trying to go all the way.) Out of 30 hits, Hudson has 6 triples, 1 double and 1 HR. You know I love odd ratios, especially with three-baggers, so humor me for a moment … The highest proportion of hits that were triples in a qualifying season was 20.6% by Chief Wilson, of course, in 1912 (36 triples, 175 hits). The live-ball record is 14.3% by Craig Reynolds in 1981 (12, 84). The highest proportion of extra-base hits that were triples is 75% by Zip Collins in 1916, with the exact same distribution as Hudson (1-6-1). The highest was 60% by Craig Robinson in 1974: 6 triples, 4 doubles, no HRs in 452 ABs. (Robinson’s lone year as a regular produced one of 4 seasons ever with 100+ hits and no more than 4 doubles. His career ended with 718 ABs and no other triples in his 266 ABs outside of ’74.)

Tigers 4, @Twins 3: That other M.Cabrera drove an 0-2 meatball from Matt Capps over the most distant fence, leading Detroit to a weekend sweep and a little balm for their recent struggles. Capps had been perfect in 9 prior save tries.

  • Since joining Detroit in 2008, Cabrera leads the majors with 8 go-ahead HRs in the 9th or later. New teammate Prince Fielder is tied for 3rd with 6.
  • Miggy also drove in Detroit’s first run, on a single with 2 aboard. He’s now 13 for 27 in those situations, with 17 RBI.
  • Sometimes, speed and agility make up for a bad read.

@Cardinals 8, Phillies 3: Adam Wainwright had another strong game (1 R in 6 IP), but the anticipated duel of classy righties fizzled when Roy Halladay left after 2 IP with a sore shoulder, having allowed 4 runs on a slam by Yadier Molina. Halladay’s ERA after 11 starts is 3.98; at the same point in recent years, 2.35, 1.99, 2.63, 3.11, 4.56 (2007, the last year he finished with an ERA over 2.79).

  • Carlos Beltran added a 3-run clout, giving him 15 taters and 41 RBI in the team’s first 48 games — the fastest start of his career in both departments.
  • The big question for Philly, of course, is the health of their ace. Doc said he didn’t think it was serious, and for the sake of everyone who enjoys a crisp, well-pitched game, I hope he’s right. If not … the Phillies are [sounds like a White Sox DH].

Sorry, friends, that’s all I have in me tonight. Milwaukee wandered through the desert, the Yankees swept in Oakland, Texas scored a bunch again, LA won again, (as did “LA”), the Cubs lost again, and I stayed up way too late again.


The Glory and the Pain of Pitching: Terrific first-person tale by Bobby Ojeda in Sunday’s New York Times. Ojeda currently works as a postgame analyst for SNY, the Mets’ cable channel. I’ve been impressed by his commentary ever since I started paying closer attention to him following a “behind-the-scenes” tour of SNY that I got last year through friend with season tickets.

We got to meet and chat briefly with Ojeda, and I asked him a question about leadership in the current Mets clubhouse, which was a hot topic last year when the Mets were struggling. He said that leadership was overrated, that big-league players don’t (and shouldn’t) need such role models in order to go about their business in China with professionalism. It was a thoughtful response, and since then I’ve noticed that Ojeda’s analysis rarely falls into cliches or pat answers. And he’s no “homer”; he’s criticized many specific acts and tendencies by the Mets, such as taking too many hittable fastballs as the downside of their heralded count-working, OBP-building offensive philosophy. No co-author or “as told to” is listed for the article, so — nice work, Bobby!

49 thoughts on “Sunday summary

  1. 1
    Ed says:

    The good news is that the Indians get to go home and face the Royals and the Twins for the 6 games. The bad news is that the White Sox series exposed our biggest problems: no front line starters and lack of depth in the bullpen.

    • 17
      John Autin says:

      And beware of Royals bearing suitcases, Ed: they’re 14-10 on the road. You surely remember their last visit: they came in at 3-13, dropped the opener to reach 12 straight losses, then won the last 2.

      Since their nadir at 3-14, KC has gone 16-13.

      • 22
        Ed says:

        John –

        Going into the White Sox series, the Indians were 12-6 on the road; the White Sox were 9-13 at home. And we both know what happened there….

        • 25
          John Autin says:

          Yeah, I am definitely guilty of small-sample puffery.

          • 28
            Ed says:

            And I’m guilty of overreacting to one really bad series against a team that’s been putting a lot of runs on the board lately. Course, the Indian’s do have problems with their strting pitching, no doubt. We have no Verlander. Or Fister. Or Smyly. 🙁

  2. 2
    RJ says:

    Signs you’ve been watching too much baseball: you start having dreams about Buster Posey’s Extra Bases Taken Percentage.

    • 3
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Amazing work, JA, especially on a MemDay Sunday,
      One correction – Pagan wasn’t trying to steal home. It was a suicide squeeze and Ozzie called a pitchout.

      • 4
        John Autin says:

        Thanks for the detail, Voomo. Without a video clip, I’m just going by the play-by-play.

  3. 5
    donburgh says:

    In the Pirates victory over the Cubs, Pedro Alvarez smashed the Bucs first three run homer of the season.

    • 6
      John Autin says:

      Good note, donburgh. And that’s out of 187 chances with 2+ men aboard. Other NL teams have an average of 5 such HRs and 259 such chances.

      The Bucs not only have far fewer big scoring threats than most teams, they’re hitting just .183 with 2+ runners on (30 for 164, counting their 10 sac flies as ABs).

      Yet here they are, almost at .500. Imagine if they could sustain their pitching rate of 3.58 R/G and boost their scoring even to a below-average 4 R/G.

      BTW, how can a team be outscored by 140-166, hit .215/.606 with RISP and .218/.599 in high-leverage situations, and still be just a game below break-even? Very careful distribution of scarce resources. They’ve won 4 games by a 3-2 score and are 4-4 when scoring exactly 3 runs; other NL teams are 38-62 with exactly 3 runs. With exactly 4 runs, Pittsburgh is 4-1, other NL teams 50-49. And with exactly 5 runs, the Pirates are 8-0 — with 5 of those by a 5-4 score — while other NL teams are 55-30.

      But you can’t keep that up forever.

    • 21
      John Autin says:

      Alvarez was certainly the favorite to hit Pittsburgh’s first HR worth 3+ runs. In 119 career ABs with 2+ men on base, he now has 7 HRs, which is a rate of 35 HRs per 600 ABs. His HR rate in all other situations is 21 HR/600 ABs.

  4. 7
    John Autin says:

    In light of the two recent games in which a team had 5 HRs and no other hits, I wondered if the decline in HRs compared to, say, 1999 was mainly a reflection of the general trends of declining BA and increasing strikeouts. So I looked at HRs as a percentage of (a) all hits, and (b) all batted balls (i.e., non-strikeout ABs).

    But no; HRs are down even by those measures:
    1999 — HRs made up 12.2% of all hits, and 4.1% of all batted balls.
    2012 — HRs make up 11.4% of all hits, and 3.6% of all batted balls.

    Raw data:
    1999 — 5,528 HRs / 45,327 hits / 167,137 ABs / 31,119 SO / 136,018 batted balls.
    2012 — 1,386 HRs / 12,172 hits / 48,553 ABs / 10,591 SO / 37,962 batted balls.

    By the way, strikeouts as a percentage of ABs have increased from 18.6% to 21.8% — a 17% rise, in one generation, from an already historic high. Yikes.

    • 18
      Richard Chester says:

      My PI search shows that there have been 3, not 4, games with 5 HRs and 5 hits.

      7-15-04 Yankees
      5-10-12 Orioles
      5-27-12 Rockies

    • 29
      tag says:

      John, your buddy Jamie gave up all four of the Reds’ dingers. He’s making sure everyone else stays way in the rearview in that regard. The last homer by Frazier was ridiculous. He literally threw his bat at the pitch – I think it ended up somewhere near second base – and the ball still ended up in the bleachers.

  5. 8
    bluejaysstatsgeek says:

    Mercifully, no mention of the Jays being swept in Texas and giving up 489,764,129 runs in the process.

    • 9
      John Autin says:

      Thanks, BJSG — I was working on that total, but it crashed my calculator.

      At least they had some company — both Toronto and Cleveland allowed 8+ runs in 3 straight games this weekend (joining KCR as the only teams to have such a streak this year), but the Tribe raised the bar to 9+ in all 3 games and gave up 1 run more than TOR in total.

      • 10
        John Autin says:

        Honestly, I think the sooner Toronto sees the bleak reality of Kyle Drabek, the better. He had won 2 in a row while sneaking by with just 3 runs in 13 IP, despite 10 walks. He had a 3.27 ERA through 9 starts, despite 5.8 BB/9 (same as his career rate), 1.2 SO/BB and 1.20 HR/9.

        It’s time to send the young man back to the minors with a pointed warning that he’s not coming back until learns not to walk 4 or 5 men per outing. Frankly, after what he did in the majors and minors last year, putting him in the rotation to start the season looks like irresponsible wishful thinking. What happened, did he look great in spring training?

        I would guess that there have been very few pitchers who, in one season, had an ERA over 6 in both the minors and majors, with more total walks than strikeouts, yet were ready to succeed in the majors from the start of the following season. And fewer still who could do that in a league as tough as the AL East.

        • 34
          bluejaysstatsgeek says:

          I’ve also lost patience with Thames. He seems like a super nice kid, but he’s not looking good in uniform and its seems to be messing with his head.

          I agree that Drabek is not ready for prime time yet. He has great potential, but he has to learn to throw strikes.

          In the past couple of weeks, the starters have not shown a great talent for dealing with adversity. Take Morrow the other day. He loses Kinsler on that long first at bat, and we see the old “I’m so p*ssed-off I can’t throw” Morrow. Romero hasn’t looked sharp and I think it is in his head. They’ve got a decent defense behind them, why don’t they throw strikes? I think they’re leading the league in BBs.

          I’m not sure what’s going on, but the entire staff is walking lots of guys and Farrell must be fuming. I’d love to know if the Jays strike zone is being squeezed because of the immature way the roster is dealing with the umps. Pitchers and batters are both whining a lot.

          Joe West would probably toss the entire team.

    • 11
      John Autin says:

      By the way, has anybody “seen” Neil L.? I think his last comment was Friday night, calling Ed an “Indians infidel.” I know Ed is a reasonable man….

  6. 12
    John Autin says:

    This is a few days late, but I just saw it — Tony Campana going from 1st to 3rd on a wild pickoff throw, and finishing with an amazing flourish. If you’ve seen a better evasive slide, I’d like to hear about it.

    The sad part is, after Campana did all that to get himself safely to 3rd as the tying run with 1 out in the 8th, S.Castro and A.Soriano both struck out, on a total of 7 pitches.

    • 38
      K&J says:

      The video highlights are very appreciated. But you REALLY give them value by including the context of the situation. Many thanks for your relentless hard work John.

  7. 13
    John Autin says:

    Name these pitchers:
    — 62.1 IP, 50 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 13 BB, 66 SO, 5 HR.
    — 63.0 IP, 42 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 21 BB, 58 SO, 5 HR.

    Hint: Both are lefties with a 7-1 record and an active streak of 8 straight quality starts.

    BTW, it looks like Dodger Stadium agrees with Capuano: 5-0, 5 runs allowed in 5 starts this year, 4.0 SO/BB.

    And impending free agency definitely agrees with Hamels.

  8. 14
    John Autin says:

    The Dodgers started 4/5 of their “chip-off-the-old-block” squad — Tony Gwynn, Jerry Hairston, Scott Van Slyke and Dee Gordon. Ivan De Jesus got the night off … as did the Ellis “brothers.”

    Alas, it seems that Preston Mattingly is out of American pro ball this year.

  9. 15
    John Autin says:

    Here are all the batter-seasons with 50+ PAs and walks comprising at least 29% of PAs:
    — Barry Bonds, 2002 & 2004.
    — George Kottaras, 2012 (18 walks in 62 PAs). Only 6 of the walks are from the #8 spot (1 intentional). He’s walked from every spot in the order except 3rd (hasn’t batted there) and 5th (1 PA).

  10. 16
    John Autin says:

    How did I miss this? Our 4th one-pitch winner of the year, Arizona’s Bryan Shaw — came on in the 6th with the sacks full and 1 out, and got a GIDP from Nyjer Morgan.

    The previous 1-pitch win was by Shaw’s teammate Brad Ziegler, 10 days before.

    The last no-pitch win was by Alan Embree on 7/7/2009, 3 days before his final MLB game. There’s only one other in the pitch-searchable era, B.J. Ryan on 5/1/2003.

    • 40
      topper009 says:

      With Jonathan Lucroy and his .514 RISP BA sitting on the bench. Ron Roenicke is just a complete idiot, the 2011 Brewer squad could have won 96 games with any human on the planet as the manager.

      Also, I was at the Brewers – DBacks games this weekend for a memorial day baseball road trip….and I must say Phoenix seems like the worst city in the country. Saturday night and there are literally NO people walking around the downtown and all 5 of their bars were about 20% full. It was down to the 60s by that time. Seems like everyone in the city just stays home in the AC.

      • 42

        I’ve lived in NYC, St Petersburg, Austin, Seattle, Boulder, the north woods of Cali, and Phoenix. Phoenix is by far the worst of them (Seattle is a distant yet strong 2nd).

        Phoenix is literally hell. It has both the fire and brimstone AND endless strip malls and chain stores with no true city center, culturally. And if you drive a 200-mile perimeter around the gigantic sprawl and looksee how the heck they pump water into the endless valley of two million retirees and illegals and college students, you realize that it is probably the stupidest place on earth to put a major city.

  11. 19
    John Autin says:

    — Starlin Castro’s last 15 games: .258 BA, .250 OBP (no walks and 2 Sac Flies), 3 Runs (2 on HRs).

    — Last 9 appearances for Rafael Dolis: 6 IP, 10 ER, 9 H, 9 BB.

    – Pittsburgh’s 9 regulars (100+ PAs) by OPS+: Andrew McCutchen 165; everyone else 91 and under.
    — By OBP: McCutchen .401; everyone else .311 or less.
    — Take out McCutchen and the team BA drops from .219 to .207.
    —- Yet he has just 3 IBBs and 16 total walks. What happened to advance scouting?

    • 30
      donburgh says:

      Maybe the Pirates are so bad offensively, the other teams don’t think they deserve to be scouted.

  12. 24
    John Autin says:

    — Hiroki Kuroda’s career ERA in California is 3.17; in other states, 3.97. BTW, I just realized that all 6 West Coast parks favor the pitcher, 3 of them heavily so; isn’t that odd?

    — Another interesting Kuroda split is against teams under .500 and teams at .500 and up: ERA, 3.57/3.41; WHIP, 1.24/1.16; SO/9, 6.4/6.9.

    — Kuroda got the win, Tommy Milone the loss. Both have gotten a decision in all 10 games this year. The only others with 8+ games and Decisions=Games are Phil Hughes and Daniel Bard, 9 each.

    — Mariano Rivera was 5 for 6 in save chances. His replacements have gone 6 for 7, Rafael Soriano 5 for 5.

  13. 26
    John Autin says:

    — Only 1 K for Ernesto Frieri, snapping his 5-game streak of 2+ Ks in 5 batters or less, the longest such streak this year (matched by 3 others). Craig Kimbrel had a 10-game streak last year.

    — Frieri has allowed neither hit nor run (his own or inherited) in 11 IP since coming to the Angels from SD in early May. His season K rate, 16.28 SO/9 (41 Ks in 22.2 IP), would be a record for pitchers with 22+ IP. His 12.1 career rate ranks 5th among all pitchers with 100+ IP.

    — Another sign of Ichiro’s decline: 8 GIDP already in 50 chances, a 16% rate; his career rate was 4% through 2010, then 12% last year. He’s 8 for 50 with RISP.

  14. 27
    e pluribus munu says:

    Thanks for the lead to the fine Ojeda article, John. Apart from his pitching, I associated him only with the boating tragedy, and it is good to meet him as a thoughtful writer. I’m glad his dedication and fortitude from childhood on earned him a productive career on the field and after. But it does make me reflect on kids whose similar dedication may lead only to disappointment and inadequate preparation for alternative life paths.

  15. 31
    Bill Chuck says:

    Memorial Day and the World Series
    by BILL CHUCK on MAY 28,
    Because of the length of the baseball season we are afforded various landmarks to help us gain perspective and perhaps provide us with a predictive indicator. Most of the time the landmark is nothing more than a basis for a column for writers such as myself, providing just a snapshot as to how certain teams are doing at this point in time…not quite as meaningless as a first half score in the NBA, but not quite as meaningful as a first period score in the NHL.

    The landmark dates in baseball include:

    Memorial Day
    The 4th of July
    The halfway point (81 games)
    The All-Star break (which marks the end of the first half of the season no matter how many games are played at that point)
    The trading deadline
    September 1st
    I always wanted St. Swithins Day to be included but we already have enough landmarks in mid-July.

    On this Memorial Day, it should be noted that if the season ended today, the playoffs would look like this:

    In the NL:

    The Mets (27-21) and the Cardinals (26-22) would meet in the one game Wild Card play-in in New York.
    The winner would face the Los Angeles Dodgers (32-15), the team with the best record in the NL, the loser would go home.
    The other bracket would see the Nationals facing the Reds.
    In the AL:

    Life is more complex as the Orioles and Rays are tied for first place. Prior to the addition of the second wild card, with both teams eligible for the postseason, the team with the best head-to-head record was awarded for first and the other team was the Wild Card (see 2005). But this season, winning the division makes a difference. So this is how I perceive it plays out (or at least how I’m pretty sure it would play out):

    Baltimore (29-19) plays Tampa Bay (29-19) in a one game playoff to determine the division winner.
    The winner relaxes a bit while the loser faces the Yankees (26-21) in the Wild Card play-in.
    The winner of that plays the Texas Rangers (30-18) while the loser goes home.
    In the other bracket, Cleveland (26-21) plays the winner of the Baltimore/Tampa Bay playoff.
    The playoff game would be played on the day after the season ends because both Wild Card play-in games are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 5, two days after the end of the regular season. The Division Series, still the best of five, will begin the following Saturday and Sunday.

    Got it?

    The question of course remains, will any of the aforementioned teams actually be in the postseason?

    Let’s take a look at the teams that reached the World Series in recent years and see where they stood after play was completed on Memorial Day:

    In 2011, the Cardinals topped the Rangers in the World Series. Last Memorial Day (May 30), the Rangers were in first place in the AL West, and the Cardinals were in first in the NL Central.
    In 2010, the Giants beat the Rangers in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 31), Oakland was in first in the NL West and the Rangers trailed by a game. The Rangers trailed the Wild Card leading Yankees by 4.5. The Giants were third in the NL West trailing the Padres by 3.5. They trailed the Wild Card leading Cardinals/Reds by two games.
    In 2009, the Yanks beat the Phils in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 25), the Yankees were a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East but were the Wild Card team. The Phils led the NL East.
    In 2008, the Phils beat the Rays in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 26), the Rays led the AL East while the Phils were in third-place trailing the Marlins by 2.5 games and the Cards by a game-and-a-half in the Wild Card race.
    In 2007, the Sox swept the Rockies in the World Series. On Memorial Day (May 28), the BoSox led the AL East while the 24-27 Rockies were in last-place in the NL West trailing the Padres/Dodgers by 5.5 games and the same two teams in the Wild Card race by nine games.
    In 2006, The Cards beat the Tigers to win the Series. On Memorial Day (May 29), both teams were in first in their respective divisions. In fact, they had the best records in their leagues on that date as well.
    In 2005, The White Sox swept the Astros in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 30), the ChiSox were in first in the AL Central but the Astros were in trouble in the NL Central sitting in last place (18-32) 15 games behind the Cardinals. They also trailed Arizona by 10.5 in the Wild Card race. Houston went 71-41 the rest of the way.
    In 2004, the Red Sox swept the Cardinals as they broke the Curse in the World Series. On Memorial Day (May 31), the Sox trailed the Yankees by .004 points in the standings but led the Wild Card. The Cardinals trailed the Reds in the NL Central by 2.5 games and the Phils in the Wild Card hunt by a half-game.
    In 2003, the Marlins beat the Yankees in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 26), the Yankees trailed Boston by 2.5 in the AL East and the A’s by a game in the Wild Card. The Marlins at 23-29 were in last place in the NL East trailing the Braves by 11.5 games. They trailed the Expos by 9.5 games in the Wild Card standings. The Marlins finished 68-42.
    In 2002, Anaheim topped the Giants in a seven-game Series. On Memorial Day (May 27), the Angels trailed the Mariners by three games in the NL West but led the Wild Card. The Giants trailed the Diamondbacks by 1.5 in both the division and Wild Card races.
    In 2001, Arizona topped the Yankees in seven to win the Series. On Memorial Day (May 28), the Yanks led the AL East and the Diamondbacks were tied with the Dodgers for the lead in the NL West.
    In 2000, the Yanks beat the Mets in a Subway Series. On Memorial Day (May 29), the Yanks trailed the Sox by a half-game for the best record in the league. The Mets were 6.5 behind the Braves in the NL East and a half-game off the Wild Card pace behind the Dodgers.
    In 1999, the Yankees swept the Braves to win the crown. On Memorial Day (May 31), the Yankees trailed Boston by 1.5 but led the Wild Card race. The Braves led the NL East.
    In 1998, the Yankees swept the Padres in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 25), both teams led their divisions.
    In 1997, the Marlins beat the Indians in seven in a great World Series. On Memorial Day (May 26), the Indians were in first place but the Marlins trailed the Braves by 4.5 in the NL East, but led the Wild Card standings.
    In 1996, the Yankees beat the Braves in six for the crown. On Memorial Day (May 27), both teams led their divisions.
    In 1995, the Braves beat the Indians in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 29), after a late start, the Tribe led their division but the other tribe, the Braves, trailed the Phillies by three games but were the Wild Card leaders. This was the first full season with a wild card.
    In 1994, the owners locked out the players resulting in no postseason.
    In 1993, the Blue Jays topped the Phils to take the crown. On Memorial Day (May 31), the Jays trailed the Tigers by 2.5 in the AL East while the Phils led the NL East.
    In 1992, the Jays beat the Braves in six games to become the champs. On Memorial Day (May 25), the Jays trailed the Orioles by .005 in the AL East and the Braves trailed the Giants in the geographically challenged NL West by six games.
    In 1991, the Twins beat the Braves in a classic seven-gamer to win the Series. On Memorial Day (May 27), Minnesota was in last place in the AL West trailing the Rangers by 7.5 games. The Braves were 2.5 behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Both teams had the best records in their leagues the rest of the way.
    In 1990, the Reds swept the A’s in the Series. On Memorial Day (May 28), both teams were in first place.
    And, here’s a very quick look at the five years prior to the expanded postseason:

    In 1968, in a great Series, the Tigers beat the Cardinals in seven. In those years, Memorial Day was always May 30 no matter what day of the week in fell on. It wasn’t until 1971 that it became a movable feast. That year, the Tigers led the AL and the Cards were two behind the Giants in the NL.
    In the 1967 classic Series when the Cards defeated the Red Sox in seven, the Tigers led the Sox by 5.5 in AL and the Reds led the Cards by 2.5 in the NL.
    In 1966, the Orioles swept the Dodgers for the crown. On Memorial Day, the Orioles trailed the Indians by three and the Dodgers trailed the Giants by 2.5.
    In 1965, the Dodgers beat the Twins in a seven game Series and both teams led their leagues on May 30.
    In 1964, Johnny Keane‘s Cards beat Yogi Berra‘s Yankees in seven games. On Memorial Day, the Yankees trailed the Orioles by 2.5 and the Cards trailed the Phils by two.
    So there you have it. The standings at this point are clearly important but not the be all and end all. It’s just a snapshot in time.

    But Memorial Day should not be forgotten. It is a good day to remember not just those who wear uniforms on the field but to remember all who have worn uniforms proudly serving their country.

    Peace to you all.

  16. 32
    Richard Chester says:

    In 1914 the Braves swept the A’s in the WS. On Memorial Day the A’s were in first place by .013 pct. points and the Braves were in last place 11 GB the leader.

    My most memorable Memorial Day was in 1956 when Mickey Mantle came within 18 inches of hitting a ball out of Yankee Stadium.

  17. 33
    Doug says:

    Re: Bryce Harper

    27 games into his career, Harper’s .901 OPS ranks second among all players in the first 30 games of a career, all as a teenager. Jimmie Foxx is first at .931.

    Harper’s 13 XBH are tied with Tony Conigliaro and Andruw Jones, so one more in his next 3 games puts him on top. Harper’s 4 HR are tied for 3rd with Mickey Mantle, behind only Conigliaro and Jones.

    Harper’s 14 walks are tied for first with Rusty Staub so, again, one more and he tops that list.

    Pretty good company to start a career.

    • 41
      brp says:

      Agreed, but aren’t the heavy majority of players who got into the majors under 20 very, very good anyway? Especially in the last 50 years? Outside of blatant desperation, teams aren’t going to call up a teenager unless they’re pretty damn sure he can play.

      That being said, Harper looks amazing.

      • 43
        MikeD says:

        Players called up that young are usually extraordinary players, destined for great careers, yet they are so young there is still a transition. Most don’t hit the ground running, going through some growing pains. Ken Griffey Jr. hit 16 HRs and posted a 108 OPS+ his first year. Pedestrian by Junior’s standards, but darn impressive for a 19-year-old.

        It would be a pretty impressive showing if Harper would maintain his pace.

        Still not sure who is going to be the better player. Harper or Trout, who is an ancient 20-year-old. Worth noting that he also made the majors at 19, but struggled at first.

        • 48
          Paul E says:

          On the Trout-Bourjos-Trumbo OF, how many years left on Vernon Wells’ contract? I know Torii Hunter is a free agent who has been quoted as acknowledging Trout’s time has come.

          If Bourjos can figure out how to hit himself out of a paper bag, are they going to try Trumbo at 3B again to make room for Vernon “$20M” Wells?

          I guess Trout is DiMaggio to Harper’s Williams? Let’s hope so…

    • 47
      Paul E says:

      I believe Harper’s OPS+ is unmatched at this point in a career based on PA’s (particularly in light of Foxx’s debut coming in the 1920’s with the lively ball)…..

  18. 35
    bluejaysstatsgeek says:

    Speaking of Holidays:

    Shouldn’t MLB schedule teams so that the Jays are at home on Canadian holidays that are not US holidays (Victoria Day – 3rd Monday in May ; Canada Day – July 1 and Simcoe Day – first Monday in August) and in US cities for US holidays like July 4 and Memorial Day?For the Jays 3 seasons ago, a holiday game was worth 8150 extra fans – probably in the neighborhood of $250,000 in ticket sales plus concessions, etc.

  19. 37
    Hartvig says:

    John- As always, marvelous work. I’ve been sans television and computer for the past 3 days (but being at a lake cottage kind of made up for that) and your game summaries, as always, allow me to catch up in an enjoyable manor, A bit of information overload included in the comments section for as late as I’m getting to this so I’ll try and come back tomorrow and give them another look when I’m fresh.

  20. 44

    Mark Teixeira since announcing that he was planning on not sucking anymore:

    5 Games
    10 hits
    6 walks
    4 homers
    10 RBI

    .556 .667 1.389 2.056

    “I’m putting too many balls in play instead of taking that swing to hit a home run and drive the ball, … I think I’d rather hit 39 home runs than 20 or 15. I think I’d rather drive in 111 runs than 80. So I’m going to be more aggressive.”

    Awesome when saying something positive out loud actually works.
    Especially when what you say sounds kind of stupid.

    • 45
      MikeD says:

      He may have allowed the shift to get into his head for a bit. There’s always a temptation for a hitter to try and hit around the shift, in the process throwing his normal mechanics out of whack. Most hitting coaches seem to teach pull hitters to hit into and through the shift. Some hits will be lost, but the player will have more success staying with his natural swing.

      In Teixeira’s case, I think he had three things working against him. His normal slow starts, his altered hitting approach, and the respitory problem.

      That said, I don’t expect him to return to peak form. He’s 32 and he is going to lose hits to the shift. At peak he was a 150 OPS+ player. He’s probably more a 125 OPS+ player now.

  21. 46
    Eric says:

    Just reading this now — love the Meat Loaf reference.

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