I’m going to start with melancholy. On the antepenultimate page of The Baseball 100, I started feeling a profound sadness. Now, you don’t get 820-odd pages into a book if you don’t like it; it wasn’t a sadness of disappointment. It was a feeling that has accompanied me a handful of times in my life (near the end of the Harry Potter books, during the movie Black Panther, right near the end of Pride & Prejudice, the end of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography… surely there’ve been others, though) when I start to mourn the loss of a thing that’s not yet over. I was reading those words about the #1 ranked player, and I was sad to leave the world of the book. I didn’t want to stop reading Posnanski’s prose. I didn’t want to stop hearing the stories of ballgames and childhoods and the way the game has changed and the ways it’s remained the same. I wanted just to be in the moment… which took me, rather profoundly, out of the moment.
But, damn it all, I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t shut the book to let it drag out. Posnanski’s writing is just too good.
OK, so all the mea culpas here – I’ve been pretty absent from the site for a few months. Life is busy, what can I say? Sometime after the World Series, I will get some season-end awards vote posts up. But first, I want to share my review of this book with you all.
Over 200 players made their major league debuts this season. A few will go on to enjoy success over long careers, but most will have careers memorable only for their friends and family members. Following are some notable career debuts, some never before seen in the major leagues.
One game to go on the schedule, and the contestants for both wild card games are still to be determined. The only certainty is the St. Louis Cardinals will be the visiting team in the NL contest. All the combinations and permutations are after the jump.
Tiger great Miguel Cabrera launched his 500th HR on Sunday, connecting off Blue Jay left-hander Steven Matz, the 346th pitcher to allow a Cabrera regular season blast. Miggy becomes just the 9th player in the 500 HR club to maintain a career .300 batting average. More after the jump.
With the advent of “openers”, “bullpen days”, and avoidance of the dreaded “third time through the order”, recent seasons have seen a quickening of the already rapid decline in the average length of a pitcher’s start. Perhaps, though, there is reason to surmise that starts may begin lengthening soon. Find out why after the jump.
Oriole left-hander John Meansno-hit the Mariners, facing the minimum 27 batters, with the only baserunner reaching on a strikeout on a wild pitch (he was erased attempting to steal). An “imperfect” complete game, with 9 IP, exactly 27 batters faced, and no hits, walks or hit batsmen, had been achieved only once previously, by Terry Mulholland for the Phillies against the Giants on August 15th, 1990, with the only batter reaching on an error and erased by a double play. More after the jump.
With Baseball-Reference.com gamelogs now mostly complete back to 1901, I’ve gone back to look at posts published previously, when there were no game level data prior to 1914. This post was originally published in 2016, but in its reprised version, nine new batteries with 200 starts together are identified (there was a lot more matching of catchers to elite pitchers in the early years of the modern era). More on long-term batteries is after the jump.
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.