How many pitchers in MLB history have thrown a shutout in the only game they ever started? I might have guessed that the answer was none. If a pitcher threw a shutout on his debut start, why would you not give that player a second opportunity?
I was wrong. The answer is four. Four players have started one MLB game, and thrown one MLB shutout. Here are their stories:
Last September, Baseball Reference added the Championship Win Probability Added (cWPA) statistic to their website. The stat, developed by Dan Hirsch, assesses the impact of each play in improving a team’s chances of winning a championship. It’s an intuitive concept: a go-ahead home run in a World Series is more impactful than one in mid-August. Consequently almost all of the biggest single plays by cWPA have come in October.
But what of the humble regular season? Less consequential than the playoffs, for sure, but still full of dramatic moments that can pave the way for postseason success. Here, then, are the plays that have had the biggest positive effect on each team’s chances of winning the World Series, going in order from the least to the most pivotal.
Everything in baseball is rated. Players are rated according to their abilities, but also by their contract value. Managers are rated by their tactical nous, and also by their handsomeness. Ballparks are rated by their beauty, but also by the level of traffic encountered when leaving them.
Of course, no one agrees on these ratings. Thus almost everything is ripe for being under-, over-, or massively overrated. Fans, players, coaches, writers; everyone has an opinion, and we have over a century’s worth of evidence documenting that fact.
Here, then, is an examination of the many things that have been overrated in the world of baseball. I looked through the pages of The Sporting News from 1920 to 2000, and found approximately 150 instances of something or someone being overrated. Let’s get to the highlights: long preambles are overrated.
The eyes of the baseball world briefly turned to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) yesterday, where the DSL Yankees trounced the DSL Twins by a score of 38-2. After a scoreless first inning the Yankees tallied in every subsequent frame.
The scoreline was reportedly record-breaking. MilB.com wrote that the DSL Yankees “are believed to have broken the all-time Minor League record for runs in a game, set by Rookie Advanced Ogden in a 33-10 Pioneer League romp over Helena on Aug. 27, 1995.”
I can tell you of at least one game that featured more runs than that.
Before Coors and humidors, JAWS and WAR, Larry Walker was just a late-season call-up hoping to make a difference for his team. Walker’s career as it pertains to the Hall of Fame has been well-covered, but what was the conversation like 30 years ago when the young Canadian first appeared for the Montreal Expos?
What is the sweetest way to win a game of baseball against your closest rival? Is it dominating your opponent in their own backyard? Maybe it’s through an impressive individual performance, perhaps coming from an unlikely source. Or is it a gutsy come-from-behind win, culminating in a walk-off hit in front of a full house of partisans?
If it’s the latter, then it’s difficult to imagine a happier set of fans than those of the Los Angeles Dodgers in June of 1974 after one dramatic series versus the rival San Francisco Giants.
Andrew Benintendi had the most excruciating plate appearance of last night’s World Series Game 2. It wasn’t because he was over-matched against Ryu Hyun-jin’s pitching; there were no Stanton-esque hacks at diving curveballs. Nor was there the nervous tension of accumulating foul balls, piling on the pressure for batter, pitcher and fan alike.
No, the at bat merely took an absolute age.
Last week Anthony Rizzo, first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, hit leadoff for the first time in his seven year career. Before Rizzo’s first at bat, Cubs’ color man Jim Deshaies recalled:
Big Riz did it a couple of times in spring training, and on one occasion he went out there and ambushed the first pitch and hit a home run.
Two pitches into the regular season version of this experiment Rizzo hit a leadoff home run. The next evening Rizzo, still batting in the No.1 spot, made an impact one pitch sooner by hitting the first offering of the game over the outfield fence.