Wednesday notes on a few Tuesday games

The evening’s theme was dominant starters:

@Cardinals 4, Padres 0: Adam Wainwright went the distance just like old times, racking up 9 Ks mainly with the curveball that’s been known as one of the best around ever since he froze Carlos Beltran to clinch the 2006 NLCS. Beltran was his benefactor Tuesday, driving in the game’s first 2 runs in the 1st and 6th innings.

  • In 25 times up, San Diego’s #1-7 hitters had a single and a walk, both by Yonder.
  • St. Louis pitching leads the majors with 13 games allowing exactly one run — but this was their first shutout.
  • Colorado, you’re on the clock: every other team has at least one shutout.
  • Beltran is on pace for 49 HRs and 132 RBI; his career highs are 41 and 116, in 2006. How is it possible that Johnny Damon has more HOF buzz than Beltran? Would any team, at any point in their careers, have preferred Johnny over Carlos? Damon’s main calling card is scoring runs, but he doesn’t even best Beltran in that area; both have averaged 109 R/162 G.

Angels 5, @Athletics 0: Bouncing back from his wildest start of the year (6 walks and a HBP in 3.1 IP), C.J. Wilson held Oakland to a single (erased on a DP) and two walks over 8 stellar innings; another man reached on an escaped 3rd strike.

  • The good news: Angels lead the majors with 6 shutouts. The bad news: When they allow any runs, they’re 13-25. The worst news: They’ve been shut out 8 times and rank next-to-last in AL scoring at 3.61 R/G, 12th with a .305 OBP and 13th in walks. No Angel is on pace for even 50 walks; Albert has never drawn less than 61 but is on track for 37.
  • Our man Godfrey: A’s starter Graham Godfrey is the first in MLB history with Godfrey as either a last name or first name.

@Orioles 4, Red Sox 1: Baltimore answered a Monday spanking with a gem by Tooz and the A Team: 2 hits, 2 walks, 12 Ks. Holding a wafer-thin lead in the top of the 7th, Matusz ended his night by sending off Adrian Gonzalez on a swinging 3rd strike, tying his career high with #9; then Darren O’Day likewise dismissed Youk (who homered in his return from a 22-game absence) and Middy. In the last of the 8th, they bought breathing room with a 2-out lightning rally — Wieters walked, Betemit bonked one.

  • The O’s are 3-2 in so far in a three-week trial that will go some ways towards answering the question on everyone’s lips. It started with their 3-game Beltway Battle in Washington; then 3 with red-hot Boston; next, 3 with the Royals’ road cast (they’re 12-8 away); then 3 each at Toronto, Tampa and Boston again; and finally, 3 with the iconic (if struggling) Phillies.
  • Jim Johnson (16 for 16) is on pace for 59 saves. Bet you didn’t know … There’s been just one 40-save season in Orioles history; that’s out of 135 MLB seasons of 40+ saves. Toronto and Colorado also have one apiece; every other team has at least 2.
  • Daddy never did that: Steven Tolleson provided the early lead with a 2-run HR. Papa Wayne Tolleson spent 10 years in the AL and hit 9 HRs in 2,614 PAs, but he never hit one against the BoSox.

 Twins 9, @White Sox 2: In 6 career starts, P.J. Walters had never gone past the 7th. But with a big early lead, he poured on the strikes and let his fielders and Chicago’s hackers do the rest. Walters went all the way, with enough gas left to strike out the side in the 8th on 10 pitches (all strikes).

  • Minnesota has won 7 of 11 since their 8-23 nadir, while averaging 5.5 R/G — or 2.1 runs more than their average in their first 31 games.
  • Justin Morneau has driven home 9 runs in 6 games since his DL stint, and has already surpassed last year’s HR total. Five of his six HRs are on the road; he has 5 HRs in 85 career games at his new home park, or 1 per 17 games — in all other parks combined, 1 HR per 5.2 games.
  • A.J. PierzynskiAlex RiosDayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez — all in the AL’s bottom 25 in Pitches/PA — combined to see 36 pitches in 12 PAs, reaching base once.

Rangers 3, @Mariners 1: Held to a season-low 4 hits, Texas still won, scoring all their runs with 2 outs in the 3rd. Just 2 other Rangers reached base, and none got past 1st. Mike Adams got out of a jam left by Matt Harrison, retiring Montero, Smoak and Seager (Seattle’s leading power threats) with the tying runs on base.

  • Hector Noesi walked only 2 in 8 strong innings, but he bunched them in the 3rd and then he got stung by Elvis for a 2-run triple.
  • Texas is 21-6 against the M’s since the start of last year, including 8-4 in Safeco.

Dodgers 8, @Diamondbacks 7: In just his 20th career game, Ivan de Jesus, Jr. notched a bigger WPA than his dad ever did in more than 1,300 games. The backup 2B with 1 RBI and no extra-base hits in 19 career games stepped in as a pinch-hitter to drive in the tying run with a sac fly in the 7th, then came up again with 2 out and 2 on in the 9th, LA trailing by 1, and drove the first pitch from J.J. Putz over the head of a shallow Chris Young for a turnaround 2-run double.

  • De Jesus had a game WPA of 0.706, the 2nd-highest this year off the bench. Here’s #1.
  • There are really just two modes for Putz: dominant, or injured. His ERA is 7.20, with 12.0 H/9 and 4 HRs in 15 IP. You know where to forward his mail.
  • Arizona had very strange offensive totals: (a) 15 hits with 7 extra-base hits including 2 HRs, but (b) no walks and 12 strikeouts. In the searchable era, that exact combination has never happened before. Teams with exactly 15 hits and 7 XBH have gone 576-89 (.866). Teams with no walks and exactly 12 Ks have gone 27-135 (.167). No wonder the game went right down to the wire.
  • What’s the record for most sons of big-leaguers in one team’s lineup? The Dodgers finished the game with de Jesus, Tony Gwynn, Jr.Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke all on the field. (Arizona started Josh Bell at 3B, but no luck.)

Mets 3, @Pirates 2R.A. Dickey: 7 IP, 1 R, career-high 11 Ks, no walks. Second Mets start this century with 11+ strikeouts and no passes. Twenty-second such game in club history; 7 by Seaver, 3 apiece by Doc and El Sid, 2 each for Coney and Koos.

  • David Wright failed to get on for just the 3rd time this year. The man who’s reached safely in the most games is Adam Jones, 41 out of 44 — but with a modest .349 OBP. The normally streaky Dan Uggla has been a model of consistency, getting on in 40 of 44 games (but
  • Seen some good things from Josh Harrison in this series, including a double and a hustle triple tonight. But he is lapping the field in swinging away: 4 walks in 268 career PAs, one per 67 trips. No other active hitter with 200+ PAs has averaged less than 1 in 40. The career record for nonpitchers with 1,000 PAs is held by Rob Picciolo, 1 walk per 68.8 PAs.
  • Who’s the LOOGiest of them all? This year, it’s Tim Byrdak: 17 of his MLB-high 26 appearances have lasted just 1 batter. Totals for those games: 15 outs (7 Ks), 2 hits, no walks. No other pitcher has more than 10 one-man outings; the season record is 35 by Scott Eyre in 2004. Byrdak has 12.1 IP, averaging 0.47 IP per game; last year Trever Miller set the all-time low for 30+ games, averaging 0.44 IP (48 G, 21.1 IP). Lefties against Byrdak this year: 3-26, 1 walk, 14 Ks. (The one HR was a doozy, but the Mets still managed to win.)

__________

Notes:

— Toronto is 3rd in AL scoring, but only 10th in OBP and 7th in OPS. One factor: their runners on base have taken 51% of possible extra bases on batter hits, best in the majors; no other AL team is above 44%. On singles, the Jays have gone first-to-third at a 37% clip (AL average 27%), and second-to-home at a 72% rate (avg. is 59%). Yet their 13 baserunning outs is just the league average.

— Mets batting splits by leverage, etc.:

  • Low leverage: .247 BA (NL .251), .312 OBP (NL .315)
  • Medium leverage: .259 BA (NL .244), .344 OBP (NL .309)
  • High leverage: .285 BA (NL .252), .372 OBP (NL .329)
  • 2 outs, RISP: .280 BA (NL .224, #2 team .251), .385 OBP (NL .338)
  • When ahead, the Mets have walked once per 12.0 PAs, a little worse than the NL average (1 BB/11.6 PA). But when trailing this year, most teams walk less often, once per 13.0 PAs. The Mets walk rate goes up to once per 9.2 PAs. Their ultimate deciding run tonight began when Kirk Nieuwenhuis fought back from an 0-2 count to earn a seemingly benign walk off fireballer Juan Cruz in the 8th; they would score twice with 2 out to take a 3-1 lead, but that insurance run proved vital when Pittsburgh plated one in their half.

77 thoughts on “Wednesday notes on a few Tuesday games

  1. 1
    Ben says:

    always appreciate the work that goes into these summary posts. thank you

    • 2
      Doug says:

      I echo those sentiments. Knowing the time that goes into my posts, I shudder to think how you can manage to check out all these factoids (or conceive of them in the first place).

      Well done, JA.

      Re: Blue Jays, yes they have been very efficient at scoring runs (I’m guessing their BA with RISP is pretty high, and their runners LOB is pretty low), but that can’t last forever. At some point (and probably soon) their hitting has to pick up if they want to stay in the hunt.

      • 9
        John Autin says:

        Thanks, guys. It does take some time, I confess; sometimes my sleep suffers, and then I have to take a little break. I enjoy the heck out of it, though.

        Doug, you are right indeed about TOR’s RISP numbers. And they’re particularly interesting. Consider:
        — .289 with RISP
        — .249 with bases empty
        — .230 with men on

        When you see the contrast between RISP and men on, you know this is coming:
        — .168 with a man on 1st base only

        … which is generally the very *best* number for any player, team or league, because of the first baseman holding the runner. Toronto is a little more right-handed than the AL average, which would take away a little of that particular edge.

        On the other hand, man on 2nd only is usually the *worst* BA number, because pitchers get especially careful with a man in scoring position and first base open; OBP goes way up, but BA goes way down. But not for the Jays:

        — .340 with man on 2nd only

        What?!? That’s 95 points above the AL average.

        There’s probably a big “fluke” component of these numbers, but I find them fascinating anyway.

        By the way, does anybody have a handle on the effect of artificial turf on baserunning, specifically, the rate of extra bases taken?

        Toronto’s “Bases Occupied” splits:
        http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/split.cgi?t=b&team=TOR&year=2012#bases::none

  2. 3
    Evan says:

    I had assumed that the Orioles would fade over the 15 game stretch from April 30th to May 15th when they played 3 @NYY, 3 @BOS, 4 vs. TEX, 3 vs. TBR and 2 vs. NYY. But they went 9-6, winning 3 series, splitting the 2 gamer and losing to Texas. They are 15-6 on the road this season.

    There is, understandably, a good deal of skepticism toward this team given its recent history, but looking at this team objectively it’s hard to be anything but impressed with the first quarter of its season.

  3. 4
    RJ says:

    Scott Eyre! What a beast; 86 games in 2005. Anyone see Melky Cabrera’s throw in the first inning Tuesday? What can he not do?

  4. 5
    Darien says:

    In re: Beltran and HOF buzz: I cannot understand why, but Carlos Beltran has been wildly underrated pretty much forever. He’s put up more than 60 WAR in only fifteen years (which is pretty darn good) by posting a career 123 OPS+, playing plus defense (*significant* plus defense in his prime) in centre field, and stealing bases incredibly well (his 88% SB% is second only to Chase Utley, who has 188 fewer steals). He’s been pretty durable, working about 140 games every year except 2010. He’s been legendarily good in the postseason.

    And yet, all you ever read about Beltran is what a boondoggle that Mets contract was! The story goes that the Mets gave him all that money because he was so great in the 2004 playoffs, and then he was just kind of average. And yet, if you look into it, that Mets contract paid him $115M — which is a lot — but he put up 31.2 WAR! That’s a pretty good deal any way you look at it.

    Meanwhile, Johnny Nitro has played three seasons more than Beltran, accumulated 9 WAR fewer, and shows a 104 OPS+, average-ish fielding, and a ho-hum SB%. He’s a fine player, but Beltran is so much better I don’t even get the comparison.

    Sorry about that. I get a little touchy on the subject of Beltran. 😉

    • 6
      bstar says:

      Well, the obvious reason Beltran hasn’t gotten much HOF buzz is because he’s playing his age 35 season. Isn’t it a little early to be talking about the Hall of Fame for Beltran? All he has to do is stay the course, put up a few more nice seasons, get to 70-75 WAR, and then I think he’ll have a pretty decent shot.

      As for Damon, I haven’t heard or read one article stating the merits of Damon’s career as a Hall of Fame one. Just because Damon recently beat his chest and declared himself an HOF’er doesn’t mean anyone else is taking his case that seriously. I personally can’t imagine how Damon would reach 3,000 hits at this point, but with his defensive liabilities and all, I’m not entirely convinced him reaching that goal would even get him into the Hall of Fame.

      • 8
        John Autin says:

        bstar, I hear you. But how long ago did the HOF talk start for Albert? For Miguel Cabrera? For A-Rod? For Junior? I’m not putting Beltran in that class, just pointing out that there isn’t a bright line at which the discussion begins.

        If we were to establish one, 50 or 60 WAR might be a reasonable line.

        And while I don’t mean to suggest that the papers and webs are packed with Damon=HOFer stories, there are plenty of them out there. (I’ve linked one below.) Even the ones that focus on why he *doesn’t* deserve it, even if he does get 3,000 hits, represent a level of discussion that I don’t hear in Beltran’s case. Also, I’ve heard a number of players voice their support for Damon’s HOF case — again, we hear of that only because a reporter asked a question, but the fact that they asked represents another level of buzz.

        Ultimately, you’re probably right that HOF discussion for a player of Beltran’s caliber — even if we grant that he’s as good as I think he is — generally doesn’t get going until we sense their time running out. A year-and-a-half ago, that time seemed nigh, but I’m very happy about his renaissance. I’m a big fan of players who excel in every single facet of the game.

        http://bleacherreport.com/articles/820200-johnny-damon-belongs-in-the-hall-of-fame

        • 11
          bstar says:

          I guess what I would say in response would be, “Were we reading stories about Damon for the Hall of Fame three years ago when he was where Beltran is now in his career?” I don’t really remember any. I will take a peek at your link but anything that has “Bleacher Report” attached to it kinda scares me. They are not the most credible source out there, certainly.

          I’m a fan of Beltran’s as well; I think he needs a few more solid years or maybe one phenomenal MVP-caliber season to reinforce the idea that this guy has been a great player for a long time.

          • 13
            John Autin says:

            b, in my opinion, the problem with discrediting the Bleacher Report or any other Damon/HOF advocate is that *any* such argument is necessarily weak, so if you rule them all out on those grounds, you wind up saying that nobody’s talking about Damon for the Hall, when in fact they are.

            The point is not the sophistication of the source; most of our baseball media outlets are not terribly sophisticated, at least in this particular sense. The point is that people are talking.

            And yes, there was such talk about Damon a couple of years ago. Here’s one from preseason 2010, when he was going into his age-36 season:
            http://www.baseballindepth.com/2010/02/johnny-damon-hall-of-famer.html

            Andy did a “Damon HOF?” poll on the old B-R blog in July 2010. That same month, S-I’s Tim Marchman covered the question:
            http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/tim_marchman/07/08/hall.of.famers/index.html

            Here’s one from August 2009, his last year with the Yankees:
            http://jorgesaysno.blogspot.com/2009/08/does-johnny-damon-belong-in-hall-of.html

          • 15
            bstar says:

            One thing to keep in mind about Beltran is that since he missed half of 2009 and most of 2010 and is now playing for his third different team in 12 months it’s kind of forgivable for people to have forgotten just how talented this guy really is. As I said above, once he puts together a couple of solid seasons or even one great one, I think people will give props to his career.

            But suppose Beltran was not able to come back from his rash of injuries in 09-10 and was forced to retire early. Would you vote for him for the Hall of Fame? I honestly wouldn’t, I think he still has a little bit of work to do. Sure, many OFers are in the Hall who have lesser WAR than Beltran does now, but I’m not a fan of the “if he’s better than Jim Rice, he gets in since Rice got in” sort of stuff.

          • 17
            Ed says:

            I don’t find the lack of HOF talk for Beltran all that surprising. He has all the classic “signs” of guys that get overlooked for the Hall:

            1) Multidimensional player without one easily identifiable skill.
            2) Lots of value in things like baserunning and defense.
            3) Lots of injuries/missed playing time.
            4) Basically no black ink.
            5) As Hartvig mentions, he’s played for a lot of different teams.
            6) His counting stats are still somewhat low (e.g., still under 2,000 basehits).

            On top of that he plays Centerfield. And he’s not Mays or Mantle. Since those two, the only CFer to make the HOF is Puckett. CF is one of those positions in which the HOF bar is set VERY high (again, likely due to Mays and Mantle).

          • 63
            John Autin says:

            Ed @17 made many good points. But I contest the idea that Beltran had “lots of injuries/missed playing time.”

            There are 34 players who were active in 1999 (Beltran’s first full year) and are still active today. In that group, Beltran ranks 11th in games, ahead of Chipper, Berkman, Andruw, Thome, Polanco, Big Papi, A-Ramirez, Soriano, etc. Torii Hunter and Raul Ibanez have played just a handful more, and I’ve never heard them called injury-prone.

            Beltran had injuries in 2000 (played 98 games), 2009 (81) and 2010 (64). In the other 10 seasons from 1999-2011, he played at least 140 games.

          • 65
            Ed says:

            John – I’m not sure your methodology works. Just looking at a few of the names on your list…Berkman didn’t become a regular until 2000, Soriano in 2001, Ortiz barely played in 2000, etc.

            Anyway, I think the fact that Beltran’s had 3 seasons of under 100 games played clearly leads to a perception of being injury prone, regardless of total games played.

          • 71
            bstar says:

            @JA, the issue isn’t whether Beltran has been injury-prone his whole career, it’s that he has been in the last few years. This partially explains why he’s not getting as much HOF love as Damon right now, although I still contend that the main reason is because Carlos just turned 35 in April.

          • 73
            John Autin says:

            bstar @71 — I’m not sure if you saw my comment #68 below.

          • 74
            Hartvig says:

            Ed- Duke Snider did not go into the Hall of Fame until 1980, which was after Mantle & Mays. He was in his 11th year on the BBWAA ballot and a lot of writers refused to vote for him until Mantle & Mays were honored first. Kind of silly, I think, but there you go. Still, you point is still valid. A lot of really good center fielders have retired since that time (Jimmy Wynn, Dale Murphy, Cesar Cedeno, Fred Lynn & Reggie Smith among them) and only Murphy has gotten any HOF support and his time is up next year and he topped out at little over the 20% in his second year.

          • 75
            Ed says:

            Hartvig – I really didn’t word that properly. What I was trying to say is that (other than Puckett), Mays and Mantle were the last in terms of when they retired, not in terms of when they were elected.

      • 10
        Hartvig says:

        While it’s true that I don’t think many (if any) writers are making much of a case yet of Damon for the HOF for the past couple of years any time someone writes about someone approaching 3000 hits (Jeter, ARod, Ichiro, even Omar Vizquel & IRod) he does get a mention and I think there’s at least a little undercurrent among some fans out there.

        As for Beltran, I think he qualifies right now as a deserving Hall of Famer but it’s also true that he’s not yet a lock.

        I think there are a couple of things that have hurt his public perception that haven’t been mentioned. One is that he has played for a lot of teams, even though 90% of his career has been spent with the Royals and the Mets. A lot of people remember his brief tenure with Houston as one of the “Four B’s even though he was only there for part of one season. Much was made last year of his being signed by the Giant’s, basically to replace the bat of Buster Posey. Four different contenders have either traded for him or signed him as a free agent and while he played well for all of them and 2 of them actually reached the post season (where, as Darien noted, he performed spectacularly) I think he is unfairly blamed for the Met’s failure to repeat their post-season appearance and, to a lesser extent, for the same in San Francisco. It’s even possible that even though he may end up outperforming the guy he replaced by a considerable margin in St. Louis, the same may prove to be true there as well. It’s not fair or even logical to do so but I do think that it’s part of the reality.

      • 41
        Paul E says:

        Beltran is a “Hall of Fame talent”. How that talent has expressed itself over the years is not necessarily a traditional picture of a Hall of Famer.

        Highest stolen base % of anyone with over 300 attempts.
        300/300 SB/HR club
        Decent BB rate
        Relatively modest BA (.283) but 123 OPS +
        Gold Glove CF with a great arm
        Highest OPS in postseason ALL TIME amongst players w/100PA

        Basically, 5 tools. However, he’s not ever going to hit benchmarks like 500 HR’s or 500 SB’s or 3,000 hits and that’s where the HoF question lies. I dunno, but at least he has about $155,000,000 in career earnings to console himself in the event he never gets to Cooperstown

    • 24
      birtelcom says:

      Here in NYC, Beltran gets undeserved but heavy demerits because of one, single pitch — what might be characterized as his “walk-off called third strike” that ended the Mets’ 2006 season.

      • 42
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        Hey Mets Fans,

        Getoveritalready, willya? It was _one_ pitch. He didn’t lose the game all by himself.

        It’s like old Red Sox fans who blamed the ’46 WS loss to the Cardinals on Johnny Pesky, because he “held” the relay throw that allowed Enos Slaughter to score from first. You’d think that Pesky took a nap before he threw home, well I’ve seen the actual game film and if there is any delay, it’s all but imperceptable.

        The real problem was that Leon Culberson replaced Dom Dimaggio in CF when The Little Perfessor got hurt, Diamaggio gets the ball back in quicker.

        Beltran is a “bubble” HOF candidate like Berkman, not quite there yet, but building a very impressive resume.

        • 44
          John Autin says:

          The blame directed at Beltran over that NLCS AB is so profoundly irrational that you have to look for other reasons that many Mets fans dislike him. (Not wanting to push any hot buttons, I’ll leave it at that.)

          A few of the points that don’t seem to register with the blamers:
          — It was a hammer-drop of a curve from Wainwright — who, by the way, didn’t allow a run in 9 postseason games that year, with 15 Ks in 9.2 IP.
          — Beltran scored the only Mets run of the game, after a 2-out double in the 1st.
          — He had an outstanding series — 3 HRs, 8 Runs, 1.054 OPS, and provided all the offense in the 2-0 Game 1 victory.
          — He had arguably the best regular season ever by a Mets position player, setting club records with 8.0 WAR and 127 Runs, tying the club mark with 41 HRs, winning a Gold Glove & Silver Slugger, placing 4th in the MVP vote and a close 2nd to Albert in WAR (8.3-8.0).

          Partly, the venom reflects the general overemphasis on “payoff” moments. The bigger failure in that 9th inning belonged to Cliff Floyd, who came up with no outs and men on 2nd & 1st, and struck out. Then Reyes made out to complete an 0-5 night.

          • 46
            Mike L says:

            Having seen Beltran and Damon both play in New York, I think Beltran is by far the superior player, and certainly for peak value. I agree with John A that Beltran is unfairly smacked around for the Wainwright K. Beltran’s 2004 season, and particularly his post-season play, created the aura of expectations that he couldn’t meet with the Mets, especially with injuries, but he was very productive and in my mind, at least an A- player. If Beltran can stay healthy and productive for another 400-500 games, I think he’d merit serious HOF consideration.

          • 64
            Evan says:

            The story that came out about Beltran offering to play for the Yankees for less money just before he accepted the Mets’ contract offer was a factor in the deterioration of his relationship with the fans.

        • 72
          bstar says:

          What the……LA, are you suggesting that a team’s fans from the Northeastern part of this country would unfairly turn on one of its players for one small blunder? 🙂 Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    • 40
      brp says:

      Damon played for the Red Sox and Yankees for a lot of his career.

      Beltre had one year with the Sawks.

      That’s the biggeset reason you hear more about Damon than Beltre, in my opinion. And, Damon was on the 2004 Red Sox that “broke the curse,” which I think really influences people more than it should; after all that team was loaded.

      • 45
        John Autin says:

        brp, I think you’re talking about 3B Adrian Beltre, while we’re talking about CF Carlos Beltran.

        Incidentally, Beltre is also on a path to HOF merit.

        • 61
          brp says:

          Yeah sorry, I tripped myself up on that. Point stands that Damon gets more pub than his former teammate BeltrAN because of the teams he’s played for… absolutely there are diehard Royals, Mets, Astros, and Giants fans but those teams don’t get the national publicity of Boston or NYY.

          Both guys have played for a lot of teams but it’s hard to associate Beltran with any one franchise. I think that also has/will hurt guys like McGriff and Sheffield.

  5. 12
    John Autin says:

    Because I focused on the pitching performances last night, I omitted my absolute favorite angle from the box scores: Carlos Pena’s first-ever start in the leadoff spot.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TBA/TBA201205220.shtml

    Why not? His career numbers leading off an inning are better than his over-all numbers. (And by the way, he still had 3 PAs with RISP.)

    Man, I love Joe Maddon.

    • 14
      John Autin says:

      This takes me back to a recent exchange with Lawrence A. about how managers try to keep players in roles that fit their comfort zones.

      I submit that Joe Maddon is the best manager right now at getting players to be comfortable outside of their preexisting comfort zones. Carlos Pena leading off? At cleanup, Drew Sutton, a journeyman with less than 200 PAs and just 3 HRs? Joe just doesn’t buy the stereotypes, and because of that and the force of his personality, the players go where he puts them and do their jobs without a fuss.

      (BTW, Pena led off again today and got on base 4 times.)

      • 18
        tag says:

        John, I think Joe is just the best manager period. He is the most flexible thinker out there, and he gets players to see the advantage of what he does, which is putting them in the best possible position to succeed. I really wanted to see him as Manny’s skipper, and try to coax the old headcase into being a team-first player. But alas it was not to be.

        • 21
          Ed says:

          Speaking of Joe Maddon, this seems like a good excuse to post this link:

          http://www.billjamesonline.com/shifty_business/

          It shows the top ten teams employing the shift this year. Not surprisingly, the Rays are in first with the O’s and Indians in 2nd and 3rd. The Rays are on a pace employ the shift 695 times this year! Which is more than triple the amount they used it in 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, the White Sox and Cardinals have yet to employ the shift even once this year!

          Of course, as the author notes, the evidence for the effectiveness of the shift isn’t 100% conclusive yet.

          • 22
            tag says:

            I’ve noticed the Cubs employing shifts more often, and the anectodal evidence is that they’re working. The last time they played the Braves in a home series, Cub infielders took away crucial hits from Chipper, Freeman and Uggla with varying alignments. Of course the Cubs need a whole heck of a lot more help than these defensive shenanigans can offer – like guys who can hit the ball, guys who can field it, etc. But Sveum seems to be open to this type of thinking.

  6. 16
    bstar says:

    JA, you were saying something about Dan Uggla and his consistency this year but the last part of that comment got omitted. Do you remember what you were going to say about Uggy? It may have been his modest Adam-Jones-esque OBP of .361.

  7. 19
    tag says:

    Pop music, the presidency and now baseball with its form of primogenitor. It seems to me that baseball is more guilty of it than the other pro sports. In the NFL you have the Manning clan, but I can’t really think of any other pairs of fathers and sons (there must be, though maybe NFL fathers have just enough brain cells left after leaving the gridiron for good to stop themselves from inflicting those traumatic concussions on their sons and have them become accountants instead). In basketball a lot of the sons of the famous – Jordan, Ewing, Rick Barry, etc. – top out in college. You have Kobe obviously, but Jellybean mostly played in Europe anyway. And now Duke’s Austin Rivers, spawn of Doc, declared for the draft, so we’ll see how he fares. I think the baseball 1% must be better Republicans, keeping the high-paying jobs in the family and passing on the benefits of success.

    • 20
      tag says:

      Of course that should be primogeniture. That’s what happens when you sneak time away from work.

  8. 23
    tag says:

    Okay, John, since you alluded to My Man Godfrey, let’s see how pop culturally versatile you are. I throw down a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon challenge to you with regard to the male lead of the movie, only it’s not six degrees, it’s a single one, and it’s not Kevin Bacon but, far more appropriate for this forum, Babe Ruth.

    • 27
      John Nacca says:

      William Powell and Casey Stengel went to school together as youths, if that helps……..

      • 28
        tag says:

        Well, JN, that’s pretty cool. I was thinking in purely cinematic terms, but this could conceivably be in baseball terms as well. Stengel faced Ruth in the 1916 World Series, I think (it’s probably easy to look up, but I’m [supposedly] working) and, if Powell ever played with the then-Young Perfessor on some KC, MO schoolyard diamond, voila.

        • 34
          John Nacca says:

          William Powell was in a movie called “New York” in 1927 (of course a famous year in Yankees history).

        • 35
          John Nacca says:

          Stengel never faced Ruth in the ’16 WS. Ruth only pitched in Game 2 of the 5-game series, and Stengel (being a lefty) sat in favor of Jimmy Johnston. It was the only game Stengel missed in the Series.

      • 39
        Paul E says:

        I heard Harry S. Truman and Hank Civitella of the KC mob went to school together as well. Supposedly this resulted in many Federal highway construction contracts….talk about nepotism

    • 37
      John Autin says:

      Well, tag, you struck me out this time. I had no independent knowledge of a Powell/Ruth connection, and couldn’t find anything in a quick search. My only guess is, did Powell act in any of Harry Frazee’s production, e.g., No, No, Nanette?

      • 43
        tag says:

        My explanation of the game was obviously poor because there is no direct connection. It’s just that in a single step you can indirectly connect them via the movies. (You have to forgive me; in addition to having been a sportswriter I was also a movie reviewer.) Powell of course starred in My Man Godfrey and, less famously, was featured in the early, little-known silent western, Nevada, which also starred Gregory Peck, who of course played Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees, which also was graced by the living, breathing presence of George Herman himself – “as himself.” There are other ways to connect them but this is the simplest. Usually the idea is connect the actor in question to Kevin Bacon, but I thought the Babe more appropriate under the circs. You can in fact connect the Babe to Kevin Bacon, but it takes a lot more steps.

        • 47
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          Tag,

          Did you mean “Gary Cooper” instead of “Gregory Peck” as the star of Pride of the Yankees? Peck’s first movie role was in 1944. Both are all-time great actors.

          This doesn’t change the correctness of your linking of William Powell to Ruth, if you are using Cooper.

          • 48
            Paul E says:

            Lawrence:
            I think “tag” just wanted to make sure we were reading AND paying attention. In addition to sportswriting and blogging, he moonlights as an SAT/GMAT proctor. We’re definitely getting the well-rounded version of the baseball fan here.

            Nice catch!!

          • 50
            nightfly says:

            Sorry, Lawrence. Didn’t see your reply – I was too busy looking up teammates with lots of doubles!

        • 49
          nightfly says:

          Gary Cooper was Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. Fortunately enough for your story, Cooper was in Nevada – I’m guessing you just misremembered the name.

          • 51
            tag says:

            Thanks to all of you and dock me big time for that error. Cooper of course played Gehrig and opposite Powell in Nevada. Peck was Ahab, a captain but not of a baseball team, and is in one of the longer links I was referring to between Ruth and the eponymous Kevin Bacon. No excuse, though, and I’ll punish myself by re-watching Footloose.

          • 52
            tag says:

            Paul E, I’ve done a lot of things in my life but SAT/GMAT proctor is not one of them. Though last year I did help my daughter prepare for her SATs and she did very well on them, so if you’ll permit me to stretch the definition I’ll add it to my resume.

          • 54
            John Autin says:

            tag @51 — I’m afraid Footloose isn’t punishment enough. Let’s make it a double bill with Tremors. (Sentences to run consecutively.)

          • 56
            tag says:

            Aw, John, that’s cruel and unusual. I’ll suffer through Footloose, but then I’ll take Lawrence’s suggestion and go with Animal House. I always love it when Belushi goes off about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor.

            P.S. I’m watching Verlander and your Tigers on the Internet. He’s down 2-1 to the Tribe, but the Progressive gun has him throwing 102 mph in the 8th inning. Then he drops an 92 mph hammer that buckles (the other) Cabrera.

          • 57
            tag says:

            Man, I have to do better copy editing of my text. First mixing up Cooper and Peck, and now typing 92 when I meant 82.

  9. 25
    birtelcom says:

    Tim Byrdak has an active streak going of 12 appearances in a row in which he has faced a single batter. That is tied for the longest such streak ever, with Randy Choate’s streak of 12 such games in July 2009. No one else has even reached a streak of 10 games in a row of one-batter appearances. Royce Ring had a 9-game streak that covered the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, and Tony Fossas had an 8-game streak back in ancient times, 1993.

    Instead of a LOOGY, a Lefty One-Out Guy, Byrdak this season is a LOBGY, a Lefty One-Batter Guy.

    • 30
      John Autin says:

      Thanks, birtelcom — I just read in the paper about the 12 straight one-batter outings, and you saved me the trouble of searching!

      BTW, since he retired every batter, LOOGY still works. 🙂

  10. 26
    leatherman says:

    Aroldis Chapman set a record last night by appearing in his 25th straight game with a strikeout, while not allowing an earned run. Craig Kimbrel had 24 straight from 2010-2011, Billy Wagner had 22 straight from 1999-2000, Eric Gagne had 19 straight in 2003-2004, and Brad Lidge had 18 straight from 2004-2005.

  11. 36

    I remember sometime over the offseason (I guess on one of the past incarnations of this blog since I can’t find it here), there was a post on players who homered in their only career game.

    Steven Hill can now be scratched from that list. After a two year layoff from his one moment in the sun, he resurfaced last night as a pinch hitter for his second career game.

  12. 55
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    #51/Tag,

    You could watch Kevin Bacon in Animal House or Diner or JFK or Apollo 13; I think they are all better than Footloose, and there’s no need to punish yourself.

    BTW, speaking of a 500 “milestone”, I am approaching 500 posts here (at 495), what do I win?

  13. 62
    Paul E says:

    Didn’t make the “Autin Review”, but Arencibia and Kelly Johnson each managed to K four times Wednesday night against the Rays. When was the last time that happened?

  14. 66
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    #63/John A,

    I agree with #65/Ed that Beltran’s having had three years with major time missed due to injury (average of 81 G/year missed) would lead to the popular perception that he is indeed injury-prone, especially since two of them were consecutive.

    • 68
      John Autin says:

      OK, I guess Ed and Lawrence are mostly right — 3 seasons of less than 100 games due to injury is uncommon for a HOFer.

      It’s still a distorted perception, because he packed most of his missed games into those 3 years.

      I reran the game count starting with 1997, so as not to cherry-pick the exact start of Beltran’s career as an everyday player (he debuted in ’98 with 14 games). Beltran ranks 30th in games played for 1997-2012.

      Here’s another angle:
      – Active players, games played from age 22-34: Beltran ranks 11th.
      – HOF hitters, games played from age 22-34: Beltran’s 1,796 games would rank 38th, tied with Zack Wheat, just ahead of Al Simmons, Frankie Frisch Paul Waner, Mike Schmidt, Harry Heilman, Ozzie Smith, and within 30 games of Gary Carter, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente & Harry Hooper.

      • 76
        Ed says:

        John – Again, I just don’t see these as valid comparisons. I just took two names on your HOF list. Banks never played less than 130 games during his prime. So why does he have fewer GP from age 22-34 than Beltran? Well, he only played 10 games at age 22 (vs. 156 for Beltran). Plus, Banks played a good portion of his career under the 154 game schedule.

        Next I looked at Mike Schmidt. Similar to Banks he only played 13 games at age 22. And he lost games to the ’81 strike. Other than that, he played at least 132 games every year from 22-34.

        Really the only way to do this is to look at the % of games played, though I realize that would be a lot of work.

  15. 67
    Nash Bruce says:

    “In 6 career starts, P.J. Walters had never gone past the 7th. But with a big early lead, he poured on the strikes and let his fielders and Chicago’s hackers do the rest.”

    So would it be fair to say, then, that Mr. Walters “pitched to the score”??

    • 69
      John Autin says:

      Do I detect sarcasm? Are you implying that I or others of my type have excessively mocked the concept of pitching to the score? Or are you mocking that concept?

      It’s hard to interpret tone from a short printed comment.

      Hey, if someone wants to say that Jack Morris pitched to the score when he had a 9-1 lead after 3-1/2 innings, that’s fine with me. But there’s a big difference between pitching to THAT sort of score, and pitching with a 6-3 lead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *