Box scores are back! Games Notes hasn’t quite got its land legs back, but here’s what we’ve stumbled into so far:
@Royals 1, Tigers 0 — Detroit was held to 2 hits for the first time in over 2 years. The last, a 1-0 loss for Verlander, snapped his 7-start win streak during his Cy Young season; two weeks later, he’d begin a run of 12 straight starts won.
- Anibal Sanchez has faced K.C. three times in his career. A total of 4 runs has been scored — two 1-0 losses for Sanchez, and his 3-hit, 2-0 shutout last Sept. 25, that pulled Detroit back into first place for good.
Eighth 1-0 win over Detroit in the Royals’ 45-year history, by eight different starters. Sanchez is the first Tiger with two such losses. Notables for Detroit:
- Dan Petry walked 3 straight to force in the run in the 9th (after starting that frame with whiffs of Otis and Aikens).
- Mark Fidrych was the only Tiger going nine in a 1-0 loss to K.C., snapping his 8-start win streak heading into the All-Star Game (8 singles, 1 double, 1 walk, and 4 DPs, losing to Dennis Leonard’s first career shutout).
- Rookie Bill Slayback in his third career game, done in by his own error in the 1st. Even so, the way his career started, we thought we really had something. By the way, who remembers that Roger Nelson was the 1972 AL WHIP leader?
Greg Holland’s 19-game relief K string is the longest of 2013.
- Tampa’s 13-2 this month.
- First multi-XBH game for Wil Myers.
- Strasburg’s run support is 3rd-worst in MLB; his opponent this game, Ricky Nolasco, has the 4th-worst support, while his teammate Dan Haren’s is lowest.
- Washington reminds me so much of Detroit last year. The Tigers were 3 games under at the midpoint, and 3 games behind CHW in mid-September, but they won with a 15-7 close and a helpful Sox fold.
@Cardinals 9, Padres 6 — Jake Westbrook’s first 2-hit game was a 3-hit game.
- Westbrook could become the second SP in the last 20 years with 11+ wins and no more than 3.3 SO/9.
@Giants 2, D-backs 0 — Fourth regulation game this year wherein 4 pitchers faced 2 batters or less for one team. That happened just once from 1916-47 — one of Dizzy Dean’s 4 relief wins in his 30-win season.
@Twins 3, Indians 2 — Nothing’s gone right for Nick Swisher the last seven weeks (.185 BA, 11 RBI in 34 games). Here he went 0-4, ending the top-8th on the front end of a SO/CS double play, then dropped a throw in the midst of the Twins’ tiebreaking rally.
- Joe Mauer’s first go-ahead or tying RBI this year in the 8th or later. He’s batting .343 in those innings (23-67, plus 15 walks), but with just 5 RBI.
- Since his 2004 debut, Mauer ranks 2nd in BA for innings 7-9 (Ichiro .317, Mauer and Miggy .315) out of 204 players with 1,000 PAs in that split.
@Reds 5, Pirates 3 — The Bucs have gone 7-8, averaging not quite 3 runs per game. If you’re down by 2 in the 6th, 2 outs and the tying runs on, and you have no better option than Clint Barmes against a RHP, it’s time to think trade.
- Mike Leake’s top of the 6th went HR, deep flyout, HR, flyout, HR, and “thanks, we’ll take it from here.” Leake’s one of nine pitchers with 19+ starts who haven’t allowed more than 5 runs in a game.
Mariners 10, @Astros 7 — Brad Miller had 2 HRs and 5 RBI for the M’s — their first 5-RBI game from the leadoff man since Ichiro 2004, and 12th 2-HR game from that spot (most memorably by Mickey Brantley — the same date on which Toronto set the game record of 10 HRs).
And now, with the Tour de Doping heating up, it’s time to go cycling:
Brandon Barnes had the 240th searchable cycle, the Astros’ 8th and their first ever with 5 hits (and the first such in MLB since 2009). Teams getting a cycle are now 202-36-2 in the searchable era, but Houston’s just 5-3 in theirs (0-6 when surrendering a cycle). The worst margin of cyclist defeat was 18-9 by Scott Hairston’s Mets, last April.
Barnes never had a triple before, nor more than 3 hits in 118 prior games. None of the 20 who were faster to a cycle ever had another one, including Cliff Heathcote/6th game, Gary Ward/14th and Fred Lewis/16th.
Houston went 10 seasons before their first cycle, by Cesar Cedeno, who added their 2nd four years later; he’s one of 22 with multiple searchable cycles, including actives Adrian Beltre and Aaron Hill.
There were 4 cycles in the Astrodome — the first by a young Dave Kingman, the next 3 by Astros Cesar Cedeno, Bob Watson and Andujar Cedeno. There have been 5 cycles in Minute Maid Park, 3 by Houston. The Cardinals’ Ken Boyer had the only cycle in 3 years of Colt Stadium.
There are no searchable cycles by pitchers. But this is one helluva way for a 38-year-old legend to lose a ballgame.
Barnes is the only searchable cyclist with 1 career triple. Among retired cyclists:
- Fewest triples: 2, by Eric Valent (450 PAs) and Bill Salkeld (1,049)
- Fewest HRs: 5, by Albert Hall (Barnes now has 6 HRs)
- Fewest hits: 95, by Valent (Barnes 74)
- Fewest games: 174, Roy Carlyle (Barnes 119) (Carlyle broke in with the ’25 Senators, but after one AB he was traded to Boston for Joe Harris, who helped lead the Sens to the pennant and then turned in one of the greatest World Series ever, albeit in a loss. Carlyle made a quick hit in Boston; in his 10th game he had a HR, two doubles and a single, and through his July 21 cycle, he was hitting .362 with 35 RBI in 149 ABs. He cooled from that, of course, with .281 and 1 HR the rest of that year, then one average year at the dish before returning to the minors. The Yankees got him on deadline waivers in ’26 and he hit well off the bench, but he didn’t play in the WS.)
Phillies 13, @Mets 8 — When you watch David Wright, does it seem that you’re watching a future Hall of Famer? If you haven’t considered the question before, it’s time to start. Now in his 10th year and age-30 season, Wright is a 7-time All-Star (5 starts; hitting 7 for 18 with a HR), who’s drawn MVP votes six times. He has 45.7 career WAR, ranking 9th among third basemen for that age range, and the 14th 3B with 40+ WAR that young.
Out of 79 modern third basemen with 1,000 games through age 30, Wright ranks top-10 in OBP (8th), slugging (6th), OPS and OPS+ (7th), runs (9th), hits (10th), doubles (2nd), RBI (5th), walks (10th), steals (6th), times on base (5th, but only 12th in PAs), extra-base hits and total bases (5th), and WAR (9th).
Among 105 contemporary players with 1,000 games since 2004, Wright ranks 11th in runs, hits, BA and OPS+, 7th in doubles, 14th in RBI, 13th in OBP, 10th in times on base (13th in PAs), 9th in extra-base hits, 10th in total bases, 15th in steals, and 6th in WAR. Of the 11 with equal or higher OPS+, six are 1B/DHs (Albert, Papi, Fielder, Hafner, Thome, A-Gon); Holliday’s a LF, Berkman’s a LF/1B, Miggy’s a 3B/1B/OF, Chipper’s a 3B, and A-Rod’s a SS/3B.
Let’s address some detractions:
His highest MVP finish was 4th, and he’s drawn no 1st-place votes. Fair enough. But only 3 of 10 eligible HOF third basemen ever won the MVP — Schmidt (3), Brett and Brooksie. Eddie Mathews never won MVP, nor Ron Santo, Wade Boggs or George Kell. Home Run Baker, Pie Traynor and Freddie Lindstrom only had the award for part of their careers, but they never won it. (Jimmy Collins and Deacon White predated the award.)
(And Wright probably would have been MVP in 2007, had the Mets not choked away their divisional lead with a 5-12 finish — during which he batted .397/1.027, with a hit in every game. By the way, in 2008, they blew another late lead with a 7-10 finish, but Wright hit .354/1.057, 5 HRs and 15 RBI. Don’t ever paint Wright with the same brush as those 2007-08 teams.)
No significant “black ink.” The only category Wright has ever led the league in was sac flies, twice. But of the 3B HOFers, only the big six — Schmidt, Brett, Boggs, Baker Mathews and Santo — had significant black ink. Pie Traynor led once in triples. Robinson led once in RBI; he had one other 100-RBI year. Kell won a batting crown, led twice in hits and doubles — but he had no HR power, and never led in more important fields like OBP or SLG. Collins led in HRs and total bases one fluke year.
What’s more, when the black-ink test is applied across eras, it’s biased towards those in smaller leagues. Wright played his first 9 years in a 16-team league; the fair point of comparison for pre-divisional players would be leading the majors, and there’s little of that outside the big six. You can have the Traynors and Kells; I’ll take a guy who ranks in the leaders in some important categories year in and year out.
He has just 46 RBI this year, after 93 last year. Well, you can’t drive in what you don’t see. Ribbies reflect opportunity more than performance. Since 2012, Wright’s hit .313 with RISP and missed just 7 games, but he ranks 44th in at-bats with RISP in that span. Hunter Pence has 14 more RBI than Wright in those years, not because he’s clutch — he stinks, hitting .241/.750 with RISP — but because he has 90 more ABs in those spots, 307-217.
Since 2012, Wright has 114 PAs with 2 or 3 men on, batting .324; Pence has 206 PAs (batting .243), and 24 guys have at least 150. Wright’s come up 12 times with the bases loaded (3 for 10 with a double, a sac fly and 7 RBI); Jay Bruce has 40 bags-full PAs (.267, no HRs but 25 RBI), and 40 guys have at least twice Wright’s total. Not even Joe Carter could drive in 100 batting 3rd for this team.
His owner doesn’t think Wright’s a superstar: Being dissed by a dope like Fred Wilpon is a plus in my book.
Anyway, think about it … and let us hear your detractions!