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.
The baseball world was saddened by the news of Hank Aaron‘s passing, two weeks shy of his 87th birthday. Regarded with Willie Mays as one of the two greatest right-handed hitters in major league history, Aaron will forever be remembered for being the first to surpass Babe Ruth‘s career home run total, long thought to be an unbreakable record. After the jump, more on the career of Hank Aaron.
We continue our tribute to the Hall of Fame players who passed away in 2020. There were seven in total, a new record for any calendar year. In Part 1, we looked at the four whose careers spanned the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In this installment, we look at the remaining three whose careers extended into the 1980s. More after the jump.
The year just ended will long be remembered precisely because it was one we would like to forget. Baseball also took its lumps last year with a severely truncated season, experimental rules and a novel playoff format. The year 2020 was also a forgettable year for its toll on living Hall of Famers. No fewer than 7 Hall of Fame players passed away last year, several of them inner circle members of Cooperstown. After the jump, a tribute to those we lost last year.
The 120th season of baseball’s modern era is finally underway, a season like no other … yada, yada, yada. No, I’m not going to assault you with yet another piece on the uniqueness of the 2020 campaign. Instead, I’m going to look at the uniqueness of every season, hopefully from a new angle. More after the jump.
Well, if the last post was from before I was born, you know this one is from before then, too. So all the regular caveats about my own lack of personal experience with this particular season of Major League Baseball.
(Also, sorry for the length of this post, and sorry for taking so long to post. But it took me a couple weeks to research and write.)
So… why 1959? Is it because that was Mickey Mantle‘s worst offensive season from 1954-1964 (“only” a 151 OPS+)? Or maybe just that his Yankees actually didn’t win the pennant that year? Well, in part, yes; I thought it would be more interesting to cover a year in the ’50s that WASN’T the “usual suspects.” But the Senior Circuit featured one of the greatest three-team pennant races of all-time (including a season-ending three-game playoff), and some of the great individual performances of the 20th century. So I’ll give us a cursory look at the American League, and then spend the bulk of our time in the National. Hope you enjoy!
I have to say how little the subject matter of this post matters to me. As I’ve said before, batting average doesn’t super matter; we all know this. 1983 is before I was born. I have no emotional attachment or interest in any of the subjects of this post. And this took a tremendous amount of research.
But… all of that goes to show you that a good baseball story, is a good baseball story. Because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this race, a batting title chase for the ages among four players: Bill Madlock of Pittsburgh, Jose Cruz of Houston, and teammates Lonnie Smith and George Hendrick of St. Louis. (To be clear, I started this post the day before MLB.com decided to feature an article about the Cruz family; it’s just a happy coincidence that there’s something fun there to link while I was writing about the eldest in the family.)
“Replacement-level.” In certain corners of the baseball internet, it’s a dirty word. In other corners, it’s a given. But what does it mean, truly, to be a “replacement-level hitter” in 2020? Is “replacement-level” a provable concept? Do you need an advanced math degree? Are there real examples of such hitters? Read on to find out!
As I write this, it’s May 29th, 2020. 15 years ago today, Roy Halladay was nearly perfect; 10 years ago today, he was. Let’s check it out. (And FYI, I really didn’t have time to compose this, so it’s quite long. I might’ve done a better job editing if I hadn’t needed to pop it out the same day I wrote it in order for it to be relevant, so I’m sorry for the length of the piece.)