Random notes for an off day

(Wait … you mean there’s pro baseball going on right now?)

Since I’ve been getting most of my baseball news from box scores lately, I didn’t realize that the brothers Jhonatan Solano (Nationals) and Donovan Solano (Marlins) had debuted 8 days apart in May. Donovan, the younger one, arrived first, on May 21, and started his first game on May 26. Big brother Jhonatan broke in with a pinch-double on May 29 and made his first start the next day, against his brother’s team. Little bro’ didn’t start, but walked as a pinch-hitter in the 8th; big bro would have batted in the next half-inning, but he was pulled for Rick Ankiel (who whiffed to end the game). Anyway, both brothers are hitting over .300 in limited play; their combined stats are 26 for 80 (.325) with 2 HRs (both by Jhonatan) and 8 doubles (.500 SLG). Each one has a stolen base. (BTW, they are not yet listed as relations on B-R.)

And since I can’t pore over every box score as closely as I’d like, some West Coast nuggets elude me. (Sorry, RJ, Luis and others.) So imagine my shock when I clicked on rookie Yasmani Grandal for the first time, and learned that he has 4 HRs in just 10 games, including 2 in his first start — one from each side of the plate! Grandal followed with a HR in his 4th game and another in his 6th, a pinch-hit go-ahead 2-run shot in the 8th on July 4. That made him the fastest to 4 HRs since Mike Jacobs did it in 4 games in 2005, the fastest Padre ever to that mark, and in just 20 PAs. He hasn’t homered in 4 games since then, but went 4 for 15 with a double, giving him 10 hits in 35 ABs (no walks yet). Grandal, born in Cuba, was the 12th pick of the 2010 draft, and came over from Cincy in the Mat Latos deal. Now 23, he hit just 6 HRs in 56 games at AAA this year, but he’s a hitter — .314/.415/.498 in 596 minor-league ABs, with 50 doubles and 20 HRs (and .335/.443/.521 at AAA, with more walks than whiffs). He’s also a catcher.

That’s a first: On Sunday, Washington’s Mike Gonzalez entered in the 8th with the tying run on 3rd and no outs. While pitching to his first batter, he unloosed a wild pitch, tying the score and moving the go-ahead run to 2nd. Then he struck out the side — CarGo, Tyler Colvin (both hitting over .300/.960) and Todd Helton. It’s the only searchable blown save of at least 1 inning while striking out all batters faced.

In the 1978 “Boston Massacre,” the Yankees went up to Boston and swept 4 games, scoring 42 runs — with just 2 HRs. They had 67 hits, but just 11 went for extra bases (16%). This past weekend, New York took 3 of 4 in Fenway, scoring 28 runs — with 8 HRs and 19 XBH among their 45 hits (42%). The Yanks have at least 4 XBH in all 6 games with Boston this year, their longest such streak ever against the BoSox (tying a mark set in ’61).

Exiled with just 2 innings on his card, Mark Melancon has yielded 1 run in 13.1 IP since returning — and his ERA is still 7.04.

His record is just 9-5, his ERA is only 9th in the majors, and he just got torched in the All-Star Game — but Justin Verlander leads both loops in IP, IP/G and SO, and is 3rd in WHIP and OPS+.

Edwin Encarnacion‘s 150 OPS+ would be higher than any of the prior 28 seasons by a Toronto DH with 300+ PAs; the club record is 143 by Paul Molitor and Rance Mulliniks.

From May 2005 through May of this year, Baltimore was never shut out in back-to-back games. Then it happened twice in their last 20 games.

Washington ranks 7th in MLB in extra-base hits — but they’re they only team that’s had one in every game so far. Their 87-game streak (starting last year) is the longest of the past 3 seasons.

Best Quality Start Percentage (min. 12 GS): NL – Ryan Vogelsong 15/16; Jordan Zimmermann 15/17. AL – Jake Peavy 14/17; Jered Weaver 12/15.

Worst Quality Start Percentage: NL – Tim Lincecum 4/18; AL – Jeanmar Gomez 4/13.

If Brandon Moss should miss the 2nd half, he would join Shane Spencer as the only players ever with at least 10 HRs in less than 100 PAs.

John Jaso had the 109th game by a DH of at least 6 ABs and no times on base (including errors), no Runs, no RBI. Five of the 15 such games since 2008 were by five different Mariners.


Comments

Random notes for an off day — 77 Comments

  1. Who is the only player in MLB history to homer from both sides of the plate
    in his first two plate appearances?…

    Yasmani Grandal. Over 18,000 players have played MLB and he is on a list
    by himself after his first 2 times up. Remarkable.

    • Jason Z: Sorry to spoil the party but those HRs came in his 3rd and 4th at bats. Check the box scores and play-by-play.

        • There have been two players who homered on their first two at bats, Bob Nieman of the Browns in 1951 and Keith McDonald of the Cards in 2000. If you’re interested in trivia John Miller of the Yankees in 1966 and of the Dodgers in 1969 is the only player to homer in his fist and last ML at bats.

          • Hoyt Wilhelm homered in his first MLB AB (April 23rd, 1952 vs. the Braves at the Polo Grounds),and never hit a HR the rest of his career (493 PA).

          • Yasmani does momentarily have the all-time lead in homers per games played, at .4 HR/G. Keith McDonald is second at .375 HR/G (3 homers in 8 career games over the 2000-2001 seasons). Among those with at least 3 career homers, the next highest career homers per game numbers are:
            McGwire .311
            Ruth .285
            Ryan Howard .278
            Sosa .259
            A-Rod .258
            Juan Gonzalez .257
            Pujols .256
            Bonds .255
            Kiner .251

          • Wow — In John Miller’s 2nd year, LA kept him on the roster for the first 2/3 of the season but gave him just 39 PAs and 5 starts.

            Then they sent him back to AAA, where he hit .452 in 18 games, 28 for 62 with with only 2 strikeouts.

            And that got him back up to the big club for one more AB, that final HR.

            Next stop: Chunichi Dragons, where he at least had a leg up on the team’s other gaijin: Jim Barbieri never hit a HR in the majors.

  2. Can I start the complaints now?

    All-Star game, done and dusted. Choose one of the following:

    (a) Buster Posey is a completely clueless catcher;
    (b) Buster Posey has severe ego problems;
    (c) The Old School really don’t like RA Dickey.

    I’d pick (c). Such a shame…

      • Agreed… let’s hope we never have to see him mucking up a perfectly good baseball field ever again. Hate that guy so much.

      • Vogelsong pitched 7 innings on Saturday.
        No need to bring him in on 2 days rest in an 8-0 game.

        Did LaRussa drown some puppies recently?
        Can somebody explain what the hatin’ is about?

        • Voomo — I’m just guessing, but maybe it’s about LaRussa making TWO pitching changes during the 9th inning, with an 8-run lead.

          • Okay, so, he’s a dick for not starting Dickey.
            A Diva for not playing -Song.
            And a glorymonger for trying to get everybody into the game.

            I hear that when he puts his pants on in the morning he goes with left leg first. Does that make him a communist?

          • Voomo — Were you ever at the ballpark during one of Tony’s 2-meaningless-pitching-change 9th innings while your team was losing? I have sat through that a couple of times. It really is infuriating, and I think it’s inconsiderate.

          • I didn’t watch the game but it is a bit strange that the team that lost 8-0 used 9 pitchers and the team that won 8-0 used 11.

          • Didn´t LaRussa kept Pujols in the bench with the game on the line, instead of pinch hit him against Mariano? I won´t say I hate him, but I was never a fan of him.

          • @26
            Not recently.

            But if I had been,
            I wouldn’t have found it inconsiderate.
            Because you know
            the worst thing
            about going to a ballgame?

            That the ballgame ends.

            It is true
            that back in the day,
            in the RF Bleachers
            at the old Yankee Stadium,
            standing shoulder to shoulder
            with all the drunkenstoned
            Creatures
            and kicking like Rockettes while
            singing along with Frank Sinatra
            after a Bomber Victory
            was pretty sweet.

            And the afterglow of flowing
            with the beaming herd to the 4 Train
            was, still, sweet.

            But then,
            like any orgasmic experience,
            it becomes bittersweet,
            as Linear Time seeps
            back into consciousness,
            with its inevitable hurtle
            towards mortality’s
            final result ever-present.
            So, no,
            I applaud
            and thank
            TLR
            for
            dragging
            it
            out.

          • I find it hard to criticize a manager for getting as many players into the game as possible during an All-Star game, so LaRussa gets a free ride from me on that one.

            It personally takes a lot for me to not like a guy, but TLR always rubbed me the wrong way. He had a conniving air about him. And the list of players and ex-players who shared a hatred of the man is quite long.

            Wanna hate on Tony LaRussa? Prepare to stand in line.

  3. If the SF bullpen hadn’t blown a 4-1 lead in 2010 NLDS Game 2, Cain would have completed a “natural” cycle last night — he’s won his only appearance in the WS, LCS and ASG.

  4. Pitchers with a win in the WS, LCS, LDS and ASG (by my count):
    Roger Clemens, John Smoltz, Josh Beckett, Pedro Martinez, Freddy Garcia.

    Some who had a shot but fell short:
    — Mark Buehrle got no decision in his only WS game.
    — Kevin Brown went 0-3 in his 4 WS starts.
    — Jimmy Key went 0-1 in 2 LDS starts.

  5. Got a boxscore for you John A! Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of an 18-17, 18 inning game between the A’s and the Indians. The A’s only used 2 pitchers in the game cause that’s all they had with them! And Connie Mack pulled his starter after the first inning so…

    Anyway here’s a link to the boxscore and to a write up on the game by Chris Jaffe. And make sure to check out that line for Jimmie Foxx!

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE193207100.shtml

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/80th-anniversary-baseballs-wildest-game-18-17-18/

    • – Athletics manager Connie Mack, with the team coming off three straight home doubleheaders and playing a single game series in Cleveland (necessitated by Pennsylvania’s blue laws prohibiting Sunday baseball) before returning home for another doubleheader, wished to save both trainfare and the arms of his pitchers, and brought only two pitchers with him—Krausse and veteran Eddie Rommel–both pitchers little used by the Athletics.

      More:

      http://articles.mcall.com/1995-04-09/news/3041365_1_semi-pro-teams-two-philadelphia-teams-eddie-rommel
      http://research.sabr.org/journals/clevelands-contrasting-games-in-1932

      • Rommel gave up the most runs ever (both earned and overall) while getting credited with a victory. He also didn’t pitch again till August 20th, over a month later. I guess when you pitch 17 innings in a game you’re entitled to a little time off!

        BTW, at the end of the article there’s a list other July 10th baseball related anniversaries. Here’s my favorite:

        1935 One of the best pitching duels in minor league history: Galveston 1, Tulsa 0. Galveston pitches a perfect game and scores the only run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on an inside the park home run.

        And look at 1986 and a walk off balk in a Red Sox-Angels game. Some definite foreshadowing of what would happen between those two teams in the 1986 ALCS!

        • Eddie Rommel also pulled off the rare feat of leading his league in Wins twice AND Losses twice. He was the first to do it.

          Eventually Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Phil Niekro joined him.

    • Interesting that Foxx won the MVP each of the three years he led the league in WAR maybe the voters knew what they were doing back then.

      • That, plus the fact that Foxx was first in all the Triple Crown categories all three years, except for being a close 2nd in (a diputed) BA in 1932, and HR in 1938. And he was also 1st/2nd in a whole bunch of other categories all three years (OBP, TB, runs,…).

        The MVP voting all three years wasn’t wasn’t really close, nor should it have been. I suppose you could make a decent case for Cronin in 1933, and a weak case for Grove in 1932 and Greenberg in 1938.

        • LA, I’ve looked at the game logs for the end of the ’32 season before and the battle between Dale Alexander and Foxx for the batting title was very tight. What was the controversy about, if you don’t mind?

          • Alexander had only 392 at bats and played only 103 games in the field- although to be fair he did have 454 plate appearances because he walked a lot and pinch hit only in another 21 games. Still, Foxx did have almost 250 more plate appearances than Alexander and it did cost him the Triple Crown and a lot of people thought Foxx was far more deserving of the title.

            But the real controversy came in 1938, Taffy Wright outhit Foxx .350 to .349. Wright did appear in 100 games but 40 of them were as a pinch hitter only and he only had 282 plate appearances- about 400 fewer than Foxx. The league said that the rule meant 100 games in the field (even thou it really didn’t say that) and awarded the batting title to Foxx anyways.

            Apparently they didn’t put a lot of thought into this kind of stuff back then which sort of helps explain why the voting and criteria for the Hall of Fame have always been so screwed up as well.

            This is all courtesy of the second Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.

          • Post 48:
            In 1914, even though Ty Cobb appeared in just 97 games with 414 PA and 345 AB, he was given the batting title with the blessing of AL President Ban Johnson, who was a big fan of Cobb.

    • So, while enjoyable, the HBT article barely scratched the surface of that box score. [Rubs hands cackling with glee.]

      — Seventeen players had a 5-hit game in the 1932 AL. Five did it in that game alone, which is the searchable record. No other game since 1918 had more than 3 players with 5+ hits, and none since 1937 had more than 2.

      — A rare 0-for-5 by Wes Ferrell. In 25 games with 5+ ABs, he went hitless just 4 times, with a .333 BA for the set (42-126, 4 HRs, 20 RBI).

      — It was just the 3rd career start by Lew Krausse, Sr. In his one remaining start, he blanked the sad-sack Red Sox while his mates banged out 15 runs and 5 HRs. (Boston’s loss left them at 37-94, en route to 43-111, 64 games behind the Yankees.) Though he was just 20, that would be the last game for Krausse, as he suffered an arm injury in an exhibition soon after. Twenty-nine years later, Lew Krausse, Jr., age 18, made his MLB debut straight out of high school with a 3-hit shutout.

  6. Ron Washington either did a really bad job picking his team or managing his team last night.

    Somehow he was left with having to play an Infield that included Joe Mauer @ 1B and Elvis Andrus @ 3B.

    The only reasonable explanation is Konerko had to leave the game due to injury after the HBP (enter Mauer) and then Washington told Andrus to “go in for Cabrera” and Elvis mistakenly filled in for Miguel at third instead of Asdubal at short. :)

  7. “Wait … you mean there’s pro baseball going on right now?”

    Sugar Land Skeeters baby, really all you need. You can have your MLB All Star game, I’ll take a guy running the bases while on fire any day.

  8. #48/Hartvig –

    The AL qualifications for the Batting Title:
    – 1920-1935: 100 games played
    – 1936-1949: 400 At Bats

    So Foxx both lost (’32) and won (’38) by the standards of the time.

    It was changed to 3.1 PA/scheduled game in 1957. The impetus was Ted Williams’ 1954 season when he batted .345, but lost to Bobby Avila’s .341 BA, because Williams only had 386 AB’s (but 136 walks). By today’s standards, Ted’s 526 PA would easily surpass the minimum 477 PA needed.

    • You CAN, however, win the batting title with less than the required 3.1PA/game, which is now 502 at-bats.

      Let’s suppose you are leading the league by 10 points in batting average at a .350 clip at the end of the season but have only 495 at-bats. Let’s say your profile is 154 hits in 440 at-bats plus 55 walks, so 495 PA. MLB will apply 7 more “ghost at-bats” to get your total plate appearances to 502 and will assume an 0-fer in those 7 AB. In this case, those seven hitless A-B’s only brought your average down to .345, so you win the batting crown because you’re still five points ahead. If your next-closest competitor had been hitting .346, you lose the batting title but your official BA would still be listed at .350.

      This scenario csme relatively close to coming to fruition in 2010. Cargo, Votto, and Pujols were all having late-season Triple Crown aspirations but a spoiler emerged from the pack in early September to potentially spoil the fun: Omar Infante of the Braves, who had taken over as Atlanta’s starting second-baseman after Martin Prado had to move to third to cover for Chipper’s season-ending knee injury.

      Infante, however, was on pace to barely reach the 502 PA threshold. He couldn’t afford to miss a single game, and Bobby Cox obliged him. I have Omar still leading the league in BA as late as Sep. 14 before he started to fade, and Carlos Gonzalez eventually waltzed to the title with a .336 mark. Infante finished third at .321, with 506 PA.

      Does anyone know of any instances where a player won the batting title with the “ghost at-bat” rule at work?

      • In 1954 Ted Williams won the OBP, SLG, OPS and OPS+ titles with ghost AB. His ghost .333 BA fell short of Bobby Avila’s .341.

      • bstar,

        You are correct sir! Very perceptive of you to bring up the “ghost at-bats” for rate stats, where the player falls just short of the minimum PA requirement.

      • In the BB-Ref “Yearly League” leader pages – the players with ghost AB’s are marked with an “**” (only the league leaders, not the top 10 leaders by years pages)

        It looks like only Tony Gwynn in 1996 utilized ghost AB’s en route to a BA Title.

        For OBP – Barry Bonds in 2006 & 2007, Ted Williams in 1954, and Gene Woodling in 1953.

        For SLG – Ryan Braun in 2007 and Ted Williams in 1954.

        For OPS – only Ted Williams in 1954 (as mentioned by Richard Chester above)

  9. In honor of the Astros two worst seasons, I was thinking back on which player might have been the all time worst player in their 50’year history. Although it is hard to come up with the best metric to award this distinction, I nominate Jim Fuller. He was a poor man’s Dave Kingman – a very poor man’s Dave Kingman. He had about a 6 year career – his last was in 1977. I believe for his career he holds the all time record worst ratio of Ks to getting on base – in the range of 1.57 IIRC.

    I remember going to a game in the Dome in 1977 and Jim Fuller got a start. Back then I kept score using a Peterson’s notebook with the little boxes where you can keep track of the count. Jim was 0-4 with the Golden Sombrero. But, even better, he struck out for the cycle: on counts of 0-2, 1-2, 2-2 and 3-2 (in no particular order). Such a feat is probably next to impossible to track back on but it probably hasn’t happened all that often. And Jim Fuller did it!

    • I hate to disagree with my namesake of sorts here, but if you’re going to objectively measure who the “worst” player is on the Astros, I think you could define it as the player who cost the Astros the most wins over his Astros career.

      WAR is ideal to answer these sort of questions. Now Jim Fuller may have _looked_ like the worst Astro ever to you, but just on the 1977 team I also found Wilbur Howard, who had a -0.4 WAR (same as Fuller that year), but also had a -3.6 WAR over his Astros career of 450G/ 1093 PA).

      Now, since I don’t have B-R P-I, I do not know if Howard had the absolute worst Astros WAR ever, but I’d say he was “worse” than Fuller.

      Of course, by a strict definition of “worst”, that would be some poor guy who got a cup of coffee with the Astros, and went 0-13 with a couple errors, or pitched 8 innings with an ERA of 17.50, or something like that.

      • Career-wise Luis Pujols (311 games) has the worst WAR for the Astros, -5.6. Howard’s career mark is -0.4.
        Single season worst is Carlos Lee with -2.4 in 2010.

        • I see Howard’s 1977 WAR as -0.4 on B-R, but his career WAR as -3.6.

          Now I know that I’m mixing apples and oranges here, but… If I’m comparing two players, a catcher and corner OFer, and they have similar WAR, I’m calling the corner OFer “worse”, because a catcher is considerably more valuable defensively, and I don’t think WAR accounts for all of that difference.

        • Luis Pujols! He was a legend to my Strat-O-Matic group — in fact, his 1978 S-O-M card (he hit .131 in 153 ABs) was given to me, nicely framed, as a symbol of my own managerial butchery … or something.

          It was a real shock to my system when a Pujols came along who actually could hit.

    • Larry — Looks like this is the game you were at:
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU197707030.shtml

      Do you remember Atlanta SP Andy Messersmith getting knocked out after 1 batter? I don’t know if it was a line drive that broke a bone, but Mess missed the rest of that year.

      It’s a fun box score (aren’t they all?) — e.g., a rare 4-hit game by Houston’s Julio Gonzalez; one of 2 games that Jose Cruz had both a CS and a GIDP; Jeff Burroughs hitting one of his 2 career Astrodome HRs; the only time Bo McLaughlin struck out the side among his 50 appearances of exactly 1 IP; etc.

  10. In a similar vein, has a player ever “won” an inverse Triple Crown? That means, with the appropriate number of plate appearances to qualify, the player had the lowest batting average, the fewest HRs and the fewest RBIs in the league compared to all other qualifiers.

    I’m thinking one of those light hitting/slick fielding shortstops of the 70s might have come pretty close.

    • Here’s a list of inverse TC “winners”. (Good thru 2006)
      George McBride…..1914….WAS
      Herbie Moran…….1915….BOS
      Jack Smith………1919….STL
      Ivy Griffin……..1920….PHA
      Freddie McGuire….1929….BOS
      Freddie McGuire….1931….BOS
      Woody Williams…..1945….CIN
      Willy Miranda……1956….BAL
      Mark Belanger……1970….BAL
      Enzo Hernandez…..1971….SD
      OzzieSmith………1979….SD
      IvanDeJesus……..1981….CHI
      RamonSantiago……2003….DET

      • I always knew that one of my personal favorites, Enzo Henandez, was the same level player as Ozzie Smith. Here is the proof I have been looking for!!!

      • Just wanted to point out that it’s Freddie MAGuire not MCGuire.

        I was all excited to look him up but I’m afraid he barely meets the Enzo Hernandez criteria for offensive futility but still falls far short of the immortal Bill Bergen and even my old favorite, Ray Oyler.

        I just love stuff like this.

  11. #58/ Richard –

    My aplogies, you are correct. Luis Pujols tentatively goes to the front as “worst Astro ever”.

    • Lawrence: You’re not a PI subscriber but here is what you can do.
      Go to the PI.
      Click on combined seasons.
      Select National League.
      Select Astros.
      Sort by WAR.
      Select Choose a Stat WAR =< -1.6.
      Select Get Report.
      Up comes a result spreadsheet with 18 rows, the lower 9 of which have complete data for the 9 lowest players on the list.
      Go back to the Search Page and click on ascending order and select Get Report. Up comes a results spreadsheet with the next 9 players on the list.

      By a method that's too cumbersome to explain you can get the entire list of Astro players.

      • Richard,

        Thanks very much, I actually did get all of the Astros, only problem is, it’s just for OFFENSIVE WAR, even for the pitchers. I get no listing for pitching WAR.

  12. http://1977baseball.blogspot.com/2012/01/1977-topps-baseball-80-andy-messersmith.html?m=1

    Gee, thanks guys. Memories of lousy Astros come back so thick you have to wipe them away from your face. Indeed, 7-3-77 was the game that Jim Fuller had his perfect Golden Sombrero. The newspaper article says that Andy Messersmith fell on his right elbow fielding a grounder from the first batter Gonzales. He never threw another pitch for the Braves – he was trade that December to the Yankees. That game was chock full o’ goodies. Thanks to all of y’all for pointing them out!

  13. @ LWrence A.

    I agree with the negative WAR being a good metric of “the worst”. I looked upon Jim Fuller as “the worst” – as a player who brought the least to the table. For his career, he struck out something like 1.57 times for every time he got on base. Luis Pujols at least kept the ball from rolling to the backstop for 300 or so games.

    I wonder what the best way would be to define a team’s All-Worst Team. 1) for each position, who had the worst career WAR while playing for said team for a minimum of X games where X would be around 150 (roughly a season) or 2) for each position which player who qualified with enough Plate Appearances for a batting title (as if they had a snowball’s chance) in a season had the worst WAR for that season. I’d imagine the Astros might have C- Luis Pujols, 1B Curt Blefary 2B Ernie Fazio SS – Buddy Biancalana 3B ?? (The Stros have always had pretty good 3Bs) LF the aforementioned Wilbur Howard, CF Howie Goss RF Dave Nicholson or Jim Gentile P Jim Clancy. That is a good start! You might go 30-132 with a Strat-o-Matic season of that team.

    It is great fun contemplating All Worst Teams: like Turk Farrell said after he went 10-20, “You’ve got to be a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games”

    • The Turk knew whereof he spoke. His 1962 season — 10-20, 3.02, 124 ERA+, 6.7 WAR, 203 SO/55 BB — is one of the 10 best seasons with 20+ losses and a losing record, by either ERA+ or WAR. He even made the All-Star team despite a 5-10 first half record (2.58 ERA).

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