Sunday game notes … and 3 days to catch our breath

“Who am I?” In my 9th year, and 3 years after being jettisoned by my original team, I currently have career highs in BA, SLG and OPS+.

@Cardinals 5, Marlins 4: Another Heath Bell crunch. Austin Kearns had put the Fish out front with a 3-run pinch-clout in the 7th, but the Redbirds scored 3 in the 9th to win. Rafael Furcal brought home the last two with a 1-and-2 single to left, as leadfoot David Freese slipped under a high tag. Furcal got his chance when Bell couldn’t finish .223-hitting Daniel Descalso, who battled from an 0-2 hole in a 10-pitch AB that ended with a walk.

  • Bell and John Axford (further adventures below) began the day tied for the worst WAR among the 27 closers with 10+ saves. Bell already had him beat for the worst WPA in that group.

@Tigers 7, Royals 1: Is it coming together for Max Scherzer (7 IP, 1 R), or is the luck just evening out? The enigmatic whiff artist (11.2 SO/9, 4.72 ERA) has strung together 5 straight quality starts (2.45 ERA) with a sharp drop in his Hits Allowed, despite the exact same K rate.

  • Prince Fielder has homered in consecutive games for the first time since last Sept. 1-2, and has 3 HRs and 10 RBI in the 5-game win streak.
  • Quintin Berry has 5 triples (and 4 doubles) in 144 ABs. He also has a .388 OBP and 28 runs in 42 games.
  • Besides a HR, the Royals got just one other man to 2nd base.

Blue Jays 11, @White Sox 9: In a game that might have never ended otherwise, closer Casey Janssen came on to face the tying run in the 8th and got the last 5 outs to remain perfect in 12 chances since inheriting the role. As seemed inevitable since mid-April, the Jays go into the Break at 43-43. Chicago lost their 5-game win streak but kept their 3-game lead over Cleveland, 3.5 over the “where have you been?” Tigers.

  • The Toronto Two-Step, as conducted by ChiSox rookie Dylan Axelrod to start the dance-athon: Walk, home run; walk, home run.
  • With 133 Ks through 85 team games, Adam Dunn has 17 more than anyone else ever has by this point, with at least 1 K in 76 games. Updating his “three true outcome” pace: 253 SO, 130 BB, 48 HR.
  • If Kevin Youkilis stays healthy and productive and Alex Rios (the mystery man in our opening) continues his biennial resurgence, the White Sox will be tough to beat. Youk has filled the black hole at 3B (that position is even now batting .185 with a .511 OPS), and Rios has lengthened the lineup by hitting over .360 with RISP. The bullpen is still sketchy (12th in AL ERA), but it should be fairly easy to pick up a piece or two at the deadline.

@Pirates 13, Giants 2: The Lincecum dilemma: Unless he’s injured, he’s not going to get it together without pitching, and you can’t send him to the minors without his permission (forget it). But the Giants are trying to make the playoffs, and he’s killing them; with this loss, they’re 4-14 in his starts, and 42-26 with everyone else. This is the 11th time that he’s allowed 4+ runs in 6 IP or less; the Giants have lost them all.

  • Neil Walker‘s 12-game hit streak: 23 for 47, 15 Runs, 11 RBI, stoking his season OPS by 106 points. Today he had Pittsburgh’s first 5-hit, H=PA game since he did it himself 2 years ago.
  • Through 5 scoreless innings, A.J. Burnett had allowed 1 hit, and had an RBI hit of his own.
  • Andrew McCutchen: .362, 18 HRs. Previous Pirates with 30 HRs and a .350 BA: None. With 30 HRs and a .330 BA: Dave Parker, 1978. With 20 HRs and a .350 BA: Roberto Clemente, 1961, ’67.
  • Giants are 3-7 since their shutout sweep of LA. Their team ERA was 3.25 through June 4, but 4.37 in their last 31 games (15-16).

Rays 7, @Indians 6Chris Perez blew a 2-run lead in the 9th, his first BS since Opening Day, allowing 3 runs on 4 straight hits including the 2nd HR of the year.

  • Vintage Choo-choo chugging: In his last 20 games, Shin-Soo Choo (HR, 5-1-2-1) is hitting .398 with half his hits for extra bases.
  • Vinnie Pestano boosted his MLB-best Hold count to 23. He’s stranded all 11 inherited runners, and has surrendered the lead just once all year, on a solo HR back on April 14. (Cleveland won the game.)

Rockies 4, @Nationals 3: Jordan Zimmermann (7 IP, 1 R) left with a 3-1 lead and a chance to even his record — a reasonable hope for a 2.61 ERA and especially in light of the team’s 40-2 mark when leading after 7. But Colorado tied it in the 8th before the Nats’ lefty tandem could record an out, leveling on a wild pitch by Mike Gonzalez, then went ahead in the 9th in the same wild fashion against Tyler Clippard.

  • That ended a 69-game streak without a wild pitch for Clippard, who averages about 1 a year. And the scoring may be changed; it should have been scored a passed ball — it’s not right to base the decision on the ball having bounced, if the catcher uses awful technique. You can bet that young Jhonatan Solano will be reminded not to stab at a bouncing breaker with a man on 3rd.
  • Rockies won their first series in over a month with their 2nd comeback win of the year starting from the 8th or later.
  • 3B Jordan Pacheco sparked the go-ahead 9th with a leadoff double, his first extra-base hit in 22 games. He had been 22 for 73 in that stretch, all singles.
  • Franchise first: Three Nats had 2 steals — Ian DesmondBryce Harper and Roger Bernadina. Only once in the past 10 years did they have two players with 2+ steals.
  • Ian Desmond tied the franchise SS record with his 17th HR, a turnaround 2-run shot — the 6th HR in his last 13 games, with 15 RBI 14 extra-base hits.
  • Since homering in his 11th career game (it took dad 39 games), Eric Young had gone 179 games without another tater before connecting off Sean Burnett today.
  • Clippard’s one weakness in years past was the gopher ball, but he hasn’t been touched that way in his last 42 games. He’s 4th-best in SLG allowed and 3rd in OPS among those with 30+ IP.

@Angels 6, Orioles 0: In his Angels debut, Brad Mills proved what we already knew: He can handle Baltimore. Mills went 5 scoreless (6 Ks, no walks), then handed off to the 4×100 relay team. He’s beaten the O’s in all 3 career meetings, his only wins in 15 games.

  • 2nd straight shutout, 3rd in 7 games, and MLB-high 13th this year by the Angels. Two teams have 10, and three have 8. The Anaheimers had 11 shutouts all of last year; they’ve had more than 20 just once  — 28 in 1964, 18 of them in brand-new Dodger Stadium.
  • The Halos got back to 10 games over .500 and haven’t lost 3 straight since May 19-21.

Reds 4, @Padres 2: Some pitchers can get away with working behind in counts, but Jason Marquis can’t. Mistake #1: He fell behind Jay Bruce 2-and-0, then tried to paint the inside corner. After 2-and-0, hitters were 20 for 40 off Marquis before today. Mistake #2 followed immediately: Ball 1 to Ryan Ludwick, then pitch that tailed in until it was sent far away. Over Ludwick’s career, the difference getting ahead of him or falling behind has been worth almost 500 points of OPS; on a 1-0 count exactly, his OPS is over 1.000.

  • Joey Votto‘s bid for his first HR (and 2nd RBI) in 12 games was vehemently denied.
  • Aroldis Chapman‘s hiccups are over for now. In his last 4 games, he’s fanned 10 of 14 batters, with 1 walk and 1 single. He’s up to 71 Ks out of 151 batters this year.

Brewers 5, @Astros 3: Here’s the winning rally off Fernando Rodriguez: Walk to Nyjer Morgan, steal, IBB to Ryan Braun, wild pitch, walk to Aramis Ramirez, infield hit by Corey Hart. Finally, Rickie Weeks singled to right, and Rodriguez was so offended that he struck out the side on 12 pitches. His record fell to 1-8, the most relief losses in MLB.

  • Wish I could’ve seen this AB by Jose Altuve against John Axford with the tying runs in scoring position and 1 out: Ball, ball, ball, strike looking, strike looking, strike looking. I can see taking a strike. Maybe strike two was a bad call or a perfect pitch. But letting 3 go by with ducks on the pond, that just doesn’t sound right. Axford then fell behind 3-and-1 to Scott Moore, but came back for the game-ending whiff.
  • Groundhog Greinke started today as he did yesterday — that is, he started the game again, and again allowed hits and a run to the first two batters, Jordan Schafer and Jose Altuve. This time he kept his cool despite a 3-run 1st, but lasted just 2 more innings and was on the hook to lose for the 2nd day in a row before the Crew tied it in the 8th.

Cubs 7, @Mets 0: One thing about a scrappy, resilient squad — they don’t always beat the teams they’re supposed to beat. New York is 2-4 against Chicago, 0-3 vs. Houston. At the Break, the Mets, Cardinals and Giants are all 46-40, while the Reds (47-38) and Braves (46-39) hold the wild cards. All 8 winning NL teams are within a half-game of a playoff spot.

  • Ryan Dempster went 5 scoreless in a return from the DL, his 4th straight scoreless start. He’s the 2nd Cub to do that in the searchable era (though Bill Lee‘s 1938 streak was all CG shutouts, while Dempster’s covers 27 IP), and the first of any stripe to do it in one year since Brandon Webb‘s memorable string of 5 in 2007.
  • First RBIs of July for Starlin Castro, first multi-hit game since June 23, first extra-base hit since June 20. He had 7 singles in his past 13 games. But not every pitcher has gotten the memo to tempt him with a first pitch just off the plate; Jon Niese fed a first-pitch meatball and Castro sauced it for a 3-run capper. Maybe Niese was tiring and the pitch slipped; and maybe, as Bobby Ojeda’s postgame remarks often imply, Niese just isn’t that smart at this stage of his career.

57 thoughts on “Sunday game notes … and 3 days to catch our breath

  1. 1
    Ed says:

    Let’s hear it for the Indians two All-Star representatives!

    First off, Asdrubal Cabrera, going 0-5 on the day, plus committing an error that led to 4 unearned runs (he botched another play the same inning but wasn’t charged with an error).

    Second, Chris Perez, blowing a 2 run lead in the ninth. The first run of the inning…a solo home run by Will Rhymes, only the second career home run by Rhymes in over 400 PAs.

    Way to represent guys!!!

    • 4
      John Autin says:

      Kind of ironic, but try to look on the bright side: Maybe getting these bumps out of the way now will spare them from an Uggla-type ASG disaster.

  2. 2
    Ed says:

    Haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere but as of a few days ago Jim Thome is the new Three True Outcomes King!!! All Hail King Jim!!!

    • 3
      John Autin says:

      That’s pretty cool! But I think he’ll have lost the crown by the time his HOF plaque is ready.

      (You don’t think we’ll have any trouble getting him into the Hall, do you?)

      • 9
        Ed says:

        Re: Thome and the HOF. No idea what to think. I see three issues:

        1) Played for a lot of teams.

        2) Never really considered a great player/never won an MVP or came close.

        3) Possible PEDs user. I know people get tired of these discussions but if some voters are going to assume that Bagwell took PEDs, how can they not assume the same about Thome? And honestly, if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to choose, I’d have to go with “yes, I think he was a user”. If it came out tomorrow that Thome was a PEDs user, most Indians fans would shrug their shoulders and say “yeah, we kind of assumed as much”. Here’s the thing…when Thome came up the comparisons were to George Brett. A guy who would hit .300+ with 15-25 homeruns a year. Look at his early years. As a rookie, one home rune in 104 PAs. ONE! As a second year player, two in 131. A third year player, 7 in 192. Okay, he was young, 20-22 years old so we might expect him to develop a bit more power as he got older. Look what he did as a 24 year old. .314 BA with 25 home runs. Perfect George Brett season. But the next year 38 homeruns. The year after that, 40. A few years later, as a 30 year old he hits 49. Next year, 52. What the heck happened to George Brett??? What happened to the guy who hit 10 home runs in his first 400+ PAs??? I don’t know. It certainly look suspicious. I can’t think of any other player who went from very little power to 50+ homeruns.

        • 11
          Howard says:

          He had some trouble as a 20-21 year old but Thome never had “very little power”. The HR arc is not unusual either. He went from 20 HRs in just over 300 ABs as a 23 year old to eventually reaching a high of 52. There are no strange spikes in his HR output once he became a full-time player. That’s not to say he wasn’t juicing. I have no idea about that,

        • 15
          bstar says:

          I don’t mean to be harsh, Ed, but wow that is taking the “guilty by association” thing really far. The obvious difference between Bagwell and Thome is that Bags always looked like a weightlifter, like a guy who lived in the gym. I still don’t think that’s anywhere near enough to accuse the guy; I think his exclusion from the HOF so far has been a sham. He’s one of the best first basemen of all-time.

          I’m really surprised you’re looking at Thome’s age 20-22 seasons and claiming steroids caused his power progression. Unless I’m mistaken, isn’t this the way virtually everyone matures? Wasn’t his a natural progression upward, peaking at a pretty normal time? I have honestly never heard this argument about Thome before. Also, Thome(along with the rest of MLB) appears to have found his power stroke right around ’93 and ’94, the years where the uptick in offense began. What is unusual about that? I thought most people assumed he was the White Knight of Cleanliness among steroid-era power hitters. Isn’t that the general perception, even among the stodgiest of voters?

          By the way, Jim Thome is a slam dunk Hall of Famer. 600+ HR, 1700+ RBI, 1700+ walks, and a career 147 OPS+ make whether or not he has an MVP award irrelevant.

          I just think with an obvious pick like Thome we don’t need to looking for reasons to exclude him. We should be celebrating his greatness.

        • 17
          John Autin says:

          I’m not going to wade into the Thome/PED speculation. But on the subject of his power spike, this 2011 article by Tyler Kepner discusses a change in his stance at the urging of Charlie Manuel, who worked with him in the minors:

        • 18
          John Autin says:

          Again, without participating in the PED talk, I must add that Thome’s “7 [HRs] in 192 [PAs]” that you cite for his 3rd year in the majors (age 22) was supplemented by 25 HRs in just 115 games at AAA, which was 3rd in the I.L.

          Also, going back to his 2nd year in pro ball (age 20), he hit 16 HRs in 67 games in Rookie/A+ ball, slugging .609.

          To me, there’s a big difference between someone who *never* had power and suddenly got some, and a player like Thome who had proven big power in the minors but took a few years to manifest it in the majors.

          • 20
            Ed says:

            I expected some backlash from my comments but life isn’t any fun if you only say what people want to hear. 🙂 Some responses:

            1) I do think that Thome’s career progression re: home runs is quite unusual (though I expect John A to break out a study showing me I’m wrong! Won’t be the first time, and probably won’t be the last).

            2) I wasn’t saying that Bagwell took PEDs. My point was that I don’t see how voters who assumed Bagwell took PEDs can come to a different conclusion re: Thome, particularly when Thome’s spike seems more extreme.

            3) More Bagwell…I think Astros fans would be shocked, dismayed, in denial etc. if proof was shown that Bagwell took PEDs. I don’t see that happening with Thome and Indians fans. Why is that?

            4) John – You left out the years in which Thome didn’t hit homers in the minors. The year before his combined minor/major total of 32 homeruns he hit a total of 5 combined majors/minors (in 318 PAs). The year before that he hit 8 in 615 PAs combined. The year prior to that was the 16 in 67 games you cited though there was a big difference between his Rookie Ball (12 in 34 games) and his A+ (4 in 33 games). In his very first year, 0 in 213 PAs. Again, for the most part, this was a guy who was hitting for high average, with few home runs in the minors. Until 1993.

            5) Even Thome has come out and said he would question his own accomplishments:


            6) Honestly, at this point, I think the BBWAA should just go ahead and elect everyone who has the credentials, PEDs or no PEDs. They knew that Gaylord Perry cheated (he was quite open about it) and yet they barely blinked an eye in putting him into the Hall. Why treat PEDs users differently?

          • 28
            Hartvig says:

            “Why treat PEDs users differently?”

            Ed, while I fully understand that you are not defending steroid use I still think there is a big difference between PED’s and other forms of cheating.

            It’s one thing for Perry to outfox an umpire or, probably far more commonly, psych out his opponent. He managed to be successful doing that well into his 40’s and he looked like the guy who runs the produce department at your local grocery store.

            But steroids move baseball into the gladiator arena with football and basketball, where (mostly) freaks of nature destroy their bodies for a few years of glory and (again mostly) a lifetime of health problems and often an early grave. I don’t want to reward anyone who put the idea into 12 year old heads that using PED’s can make your dream come true or even worse, that that’s the only way to do so. I understand that it’s the parents responsibility to raise their own children and make them understand that their sports “heros” are just people and sometimes very, very flawed people at that. But you’re competing with a culture that glorifies athletic achievement and it’s too easy for the parents message to get lost.

            My own feelings on ‘roids and the Hall would be to elect those who would have clearly made it without them after making them cool their heals for a few years (Bonds, Clemens) and to tell the rest to go suck an egg.

          • 29
            Ed says:

            Hartvig: But how do you determine “those who would have clearly made it without them”? Therein lies the rub.

          • 33
            Howard says:

            Ed, how is Thome’s “spike” more extreme than Bagwell’s? Bagwell hit six HRs in over 200 minor league games and then in the majors he went from 20 HRs in 1993 to 39 the next year despite having 135 fewer ABs?

            Also, who says Indian fans wouldn’t be shocked if Thome used PEDs but Astro fans would be if Bagwell did?

          • 35
            Ed says:

            Howard – My comments regarding “spikes” was solely referring to major league stats since that’s what I assume HOF voters will look at when they’re speculating whether or not a player used steroids.

            As for fan reactions, you’re right that I really don’t know much about Astros fans. Though I don’t think my comments are far off from what can be expected. As for Indians fans, I know them quite well, being one of them myself. (for better or for worse)

          • 40
            bstar says:

            Ed @20, I made an attempt to explain why the perception of Bagwell is different than that of Thome.

            Bagwell had the body of a steroid-user. I still think he was only hitting the weight room to make himself stronger and his body shape has created more doubt about his career numbers than those of Thome, who maintained a more natural look throughout his career. Is it really such a preposterous idea that a portion of these guys actually made themselves stronger in a non-illegal way? Todd Helton and Ken Griffey are two more examples of guys who seemed to give the impression body-wise that they had done nothing unnatural to produce the numbers they did.

          • 47
            Ed says:

            Bstar – Obviously what you say is true. In any given era, there are going to be certain players who hit lots of home runs. Unfortunately we have no way to know/determine who did it naturally and who didn’t. There’s also a tendency to lump all PEDs users together when in fact some guys used consistently for a period of years, some guys may have just used them for a year and other guys may have tried them once and decided not to continue.

        • 21
          Mike L says:

          Ed: While anything is possible, there’s no credible evidence whatsoever that Thome used steroids, and if we are going to go around slashing at everyone, in the complete absence of proof, we might as well just open the door to universal steroid use and be done with it. The number of teams Thome played for has increased over the last three years because he’s being used as a trading chip as his skills have diminished, not because he’s Milton Bradley. If you don’t think Thome merits the Hall, despite the counting stats and WAR, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. FYI, without breaking into a scientific study, 13 HR in 509 PA, 13 HR in 386 PA, 5 HR in 261 PA, would be Hank, Mickey and the Duke’s start to their careers. Mickey certainly had a affection for juice, but not this type.

          • 24
            Ed says:

            Mike L – Where did I say Thome didn’t deserve to go in the HOF??? Talk about putting words in my mouth! John asked me if he’d have any trouble getting into the HOF and I listed reasons why voters may chose not to vote for him.

            Hank and Mick were hitting more home runs at an earlier age than Thome. I would submit that their career progression doesn’t match Thome. Snider isn’t really in the same class re: peak or total home runs.

            Ultimately people are already speculating. Rafael Palmiero failed ONE drug test at the very end of his career. As a result everyone assumes that he was taking steroids his whole career. Why? Cause they didn’t like his career progression re: home runs. And yet there’s ZERO proof that he was taking steroids except for that last year. ZERO! Or what about Sammy Sosa? Zero failed drug tests. But people didn’t like his responses to Congress or his career progression so he must have taken steroids as well. Why is it okay to speculate about some players but not others???

            Anyway, as I said, I’m coming to the opinion that 1) MLB should do everything in its power to stop cheating while recognizing that some people will slip through the cracks. 2) The BBWAA has already shown a willingness to elect cheaters to the HOF and we’ll never know who did or didn’t cheat re: PEDs or how much it helped them. So maybe they should just go ahead and elect those who have the qualifications. At the very least, it would probably open players up to talking more about their PED use.

          • 27
            Mike L says:

            Ed, no intent to put words in your mouth, although you have to admit that it’s certainly possible to infer from the “three issues” comment (too many teams, MVP and steroids) plus your follow-ups that, given the vote, you’d vote yes on cheating and no on Hall. People can speculate all they want, but to put players who have failed tests with players who haven’t I think is unfair. Since we are on the topic of progressions, Griffey Jr. hit 87 HR’s in 2422 plate appearances over his first four years, which is a pretty sizable sample set. His home run rate doubled after that for the next eight. And Gehrig hit 32 HR’s over 1235 PA’s in his first four years. What do we say about Yaz, who hit 95 HR’s in his first 3927 PA’s before cranking 40+ (when that meant something) three times in four years? Musial hit 71 HR’s in his first 3333 PAs. I’m not looking to compare Thome to any of these players, but even the unquestioned greats could have a power arc to their career.

          • 30
            Ed says:

            Mike L – Fair points. I guess what bothers me is what I see as a certain “PCness” that goes along with these sort of speculations. It seems like it’s okay/PC to speculate about some people but not others. Take Sammy Sosa and Jose Bautista. Both had a huge jump in home runs at age 29. But it’s okay to speculate about Sosa but not Bautista. Why? People may not like my speculations but at least I’m an equal opportunity speculator. 🙂

          • 34
            RichW says:

            Ed-FWIW Jose Baustista was openly scorned by many people especially opposing team broadcasters and the print media in many cities. It has died down some but every so often someone pulls out the “man in the white shirt” BS when the steroid accusations get old.

            I agree with your main point. If guys have the numbers they should go in. I just wanted to point out that Bausista’s honesty has been questioned a lot usually by weasels who smirk and snigger but won’t accuse him outright.

          • 36
            Ed says:

            RichW – You could be right re: Bautista though from what I’ve seen on forums such as this one, mention of Bautista and steroids plays about as well as my comments re: Thome. Not very well. Meanwhile, I see very few people willing to go to the same lengths to defend Sosa.

          • 41
            bstar says:

            OK, Ed, what I’m gathering from your points in @24 is that you are not necessarily railing against Thome’s case for the HOF but instead the inconsistencies on how we view some steroid-era players vs. others.

            But you made such a strong statement in your original @9 comment, especially point 3, that it made it seem like you were agreeing that Thome’s numbers should be put into question.

            And FWIW, I don’t agree with you that evidence that Thome did steroids would be less shocking than if it were uncovered that Bagwell had used.

        • 37
          Paul E says:

          I’d be more suspicious of Thome if he transformed himself into a 30-30 guy – like Bagwell…Abreu….Sosa…Canseco

          Maybe the other 104 names will come out in our lifetime – then we can speculate about the ones who didn’t test positive at that time. The union doesn’t seem to be too worried about “false negatives”. Maybe we shouldn’t either?

          • 55
            K&J says:

            The Mitchell Report names are out there. I’ve seen them online. You can find ’em if you like.

            It doesn’t much matter. Well over half the players used.

            I don’t much care for anyone trying to attack players for (suspected) steroid use, when MLB did nothing to control them. MLB practically encouraged players to use.

          • 56
            PP says:

            Thome doesn’t show up on any list related to the Mitchell Report as far as I can see, not even on any of the “leaked” lists

  3. 5
    John Autin says:

    I just noticed this odd little thing … A-Rod’s triple tonight was the 30th of his career. That’s the 2nd-lowest total (Sheffield had 27) among the 61 players with 9,000 ABs since 1901 (A-Rod has 9,504 ABs).

    Not meaningful, just odd. I mean, Dave Kingman hit 25 triples in less than 7,000 ABs.

    The median triples for the 500-HR club is 49 by Reggie.

    • 6
      John Nacca says:

      That does seem odd, especially considering his speed. Of course A-Rod really isn’t a line drive/slash type of hitter (like Jeter for example, who has 65 triples).

      • 7
        MikeD says:

        That is intereting…kind of. I disagree that A-Rod is not a line-drive hitter. He hits line drives to both gaps and has excellent opposite-field power hitter. In his case, though, may of his line drives go for great distance. He has good speed and has always been regarded as a good baserunner. I would have thought he’d have a few more triples. He has played quite a bit of his career at Yankee Stadium(s), and neither YSII or YSII rate well for triples, in fact quite poorly.

    • 8
      bstar says:

      I can see a possible justification for A-Rod having fewer triples than Kingman. Since both hit the ball really hard, they don’t get a lot of “typical” triples. A typical triple is usually hit not quite as hard as the normal gap shot and often the outfielder will run sideways to try and cut the ball off before it gets past him. It does get past him anyway, and the outfielder then has to run all the way back to the wall to fetch since it won’t have much wall rebound, giving the runner that extra half second to get to third. Hitting screaming line drives is not a good recipe for typical triples.

      Then there are the other type of triples, the long, high, potential-home-run fly balls that the outfielder leaps for but misses and the ball bounces off the wall at a weird angle. Though rare, these are the types of batted balls that even Dave Kingman can leg out a triple on. But it does probably need to be a long fly ball rather than a line drive for the runner’s sake. And since I would categorize A-Rod as more of a line drive home run hitter and Dave Kingman as more of a long fly ball one, I can potentially see how Kingman might somehow be a better triples threat than Rodriguez.

      Either that, or I have just rambled incoherently for a couple paragraphs. Yeah, probably the latter.

      • 22
        Tmckelv says:

        The imagery of the Dave Kingman triple description reminds me of when Steve Balboni hit a high fly that landed just in front of the warning track (when the left center wall in Yankee Stadium was still 430′). He legged out a triple on that one. It is burned into my memory. That is prior to Steve going to the triples haven Kansas City.

        • 45
          Brent says:

          Hmm, I have a similar memory of a triple in that deep left center alley at Yankees’ stadium involving a slow Royals 1Bman, but mine is Willie Mays Aikens. In fact, I venture to say that Yankees’ Stadium is about the only place that WMA could hit a triple and then only to Left center, because a) how far away it was and b) he was a dead pull LH hitter and teams played him accordingly, which left a huge gap in left center field.

          BTW, if “Bye Bye” and WMA had a foot race around the bases, “Bye Bye” would win by at least 90 feet.

          • 46
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            Willie Mays Aikens went over 1700 AB’s before hitting his first career triple. Bill James had a great line, that “Willie Mays Aikens was thrown out at third, trying to stretch a triple into a triple.”

      • 39
        no statistician but says:

        Could a factor be that certain third base coaches are more likely to put up the stop sign than others when a batter gets to second base on a possible triple?

        Just a thought.

    • 23
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      In general, right-handed batters (such as A-Rod) are at a big disadvantage in hitting triples. Amongst active players, all of the Top-10, and 18 of the Top-20 active leaders in Career Triples, are either left-handed or switch-hitters.

      Most triples are hit to right or right-center, and the natural tendency of of a rightie to pull the ball to left means far fewer hard-hit balls to right field than for lefty batters. Ballparks play a factor too, but I think that was more significant in the pre-expansion days of extremely asymmetrical outfields.

      I think that being a left-handed hitter and naturally hitting the ball to right usually plays much more a factor than power and speed. Rickey Henderson, a rightie who had good power and tremendous speed, had only 66 career triples, 433rd all-time. He never had double figures in a season, was only in the Top-10 twice, and never had more than three in a season after age 27.

      • 26


        Here’s a great article on the Rickey-Triples question, from 2003:


        1985 was a great year to be a 12 year old Yankees fan.
        Well, mostly. Exciting, yes. But watching your team win 97 games and never, not even for one day, never be in first place…

        Here’s what Mattingly had to work with w/r/t the pitcher working out of the stretch, with the most dangerous man on the planet lurking over the pitcher’s shoulder:

        MVP Mattingly had an ops .005 points higher than Rickey.
        Rickey was 80/10 SB.

        • 32
          Tmckelv says:

          Regarding Mattingly’s splits.

          The Yanks were clearly not stealing signs (successfully at least) as Donnie batted .172 with a runner on second base (1st & 3rd empty). For all other splits he was well over .300

        • 48
          Paul E says:

          I remember Bill James in his annual abstract stating something to the effect that Mattingly wasn’t the M V P because Eddie Murray could have knocked in 150 runs if he had Ricky batting leadoff. But, if I’m not mistaken, that was his logic for stating his hometown hero, George Brett, should have been M V P in 1985. Somehow, he quickly forgot about Henderson….

          • 49
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            Brett, Henderson, and Boggs were all more worthy of the 1985 AL MVP award than Mattingly, but the BWAA voters were distracted by the dazzingly bright, shiny object that was Mattingly’s 145 RBI (most RBI in the AL since 1949!).

            By WAR, Mattingly was 6th out of 19 vote-getters.

          • 50
            bstar says:

            Paul E @48, it’s doesn’t look to me like James’ theory that Murray would have driven in more runs in ’85 playing for the Yankees than Mattingly is necessarily true.

            According to BProspectus’ OBI%(an RBI rate stat which measures a player’s performance at driving in runners on base), Mattingly had a 22.4 OBI% while Murray was at 21.1%, suggesting Donnie Baseball was indeed more proficient than Eddie at driving in baserunners that year.

  4. 10
    Tristram12 says:

    Four days to rest. No games scheduled for Thursday 🙁

    • 13
      bstar says:

      I know, just coming to grips with that. This is the first year there are NO Thursday games at all, right? I guess it’s for the best, kinda seemed like the teams getting 4 days rest instead of 3 got a little bit of an advantage. Still, it sucks.

  5. 12
    donburgh says:

    In addition to his two homers, McCutchen also scored from the initial sack on a single – under unusual circumstances. Casey McGehee hit a ball to the North Side Notch (410′ away) but then apparently pulled a muscle a few steps out of the batter’s box.

  6. 14
    RJ says:

    Great stuff as always John. Some thoughts:

    – Your “Who am I?” very nearly fits the Melk Man, who is in his 8th year. Alex Rios’ career has been of great interest to me ever since the Giants almost traded Tim Lincecum for him in the 2007 off-season. Lincecum was coming off the back of his promising debut season, and the Giants badly needed someone who could hit the damn ball. Of course events proved the lack of a trade to be very much the right decision, to put it mildly. Interesting to note the reversal in their fortunes this year though.

    – Is Vinnie Pestano going to be the one to finally break Luke Gregerson’s much celebrated holds record then, after Tyler Clippard fell agonisingly short last year? 🙂

    – Prince Fielder is hitting .299 again.

    • 16
      John Autin says:

      I’m touched that you seem to remember my Clippard/Gregerson post on the old B-R site … or maybe you’re just steeped in the history of Holds?

      • 19
        RJ says:

        Haha, no, it’s all your fault that I know anything about holds leaders. I seem to remember that whole thread being really funny.

    • 31
      JDV says:

      I haven’t seen acknowledgement that Melky Cabrera is the answer, but I assume it’s right. Melky leads the major leagues in hits, not only this year (119), but since the start of 2011 (320). Only five others have 300 in that span.

      • 38
        RJ says:

        Alex Rios was the answer JDV, John snuck it in in the summary of the White Sox game. Out of curiosity, who are the other five hitters with 300 hits?

        • 43
          Richard Chester says:

          The other 5 are Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Michael Bourn and Michael Young. It’s easy enough to do on BR PI.

          • 54
            RJ says:

            Thanks Richard. I’m not a subscriber, although it seems there’s a free trial on at the moment so I just gave it a quick spin to see for myself.

  7. 25
    Doug says:

    Blue Jays had another pitcher (Luis Perez) leave a game after throwing a pitch and collapsing in pain. On the DL now with an elbow issue.

    Talk about being snake-bit.

  8. 42
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Either somebody’s been asleep at the wheel the last few years (moi!) or MLB has gone from a 3 day to a 4 day break this year. When did that change occur?

    • 44
      John Autin says:

      Jim, I believe this is the first year that all teams are off until Friday. But at least a few teams have had the extra day in recent years.

      • 51
        Jim Bouldin says:

        Thanks John. Good to know I’m not losing the ol’ marbles. Well, not losing them real fast anyway…

      • 52
        Richard Chester says:

        And I have a distinct memory of a game being played on the Wednesday after the All-Star game. It was a make-up game. I’ll see if I can track it down.

        • 53
          Richard Chester says:

          I made a quick check of the 1960s. Wednesday games were played in 62, 63, 64, 65 and 67.

  9. 57

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