After several rounds in which holdovers were widely preferred to candidates from each new birth-year class, the 1926 birth-year class produced two very popular candidates, including Robin Roberts, who becomes the 55th inductee into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats. More on Robin and the voting after the jump. Read the rest of this entry
The weekend started wild and woolly — very, very wild….
Red Sox 7, @Blue Jays 6 — Arizona staged the promotion Friday, but lately every game is “Zombie Day” at Rogers Centre. Brandon Morrow did not allow a hit, but he bit off his own leg and wrote his epitaph with four straight passes after two outs in the 3rd, his eight walks on the day matching the number of outs recorded. A.J. Pierzynski greeted Chad Jenkins with his eighth career slam, on a fastball right down Broadway, to wipe out the remains of Toronto’s 3-0 lead. When Jenkins tried his breaking stuff, Will Middlebrooks found it just as amiable, and Boston was on top, 6-3.
These relievers are distinguished from their expansion era brethren by dint of an unusual seasonal accomplishment since 1961. What is it?
Looks as though this one is a stumper. The answer is that the quiz players are the only right-handed relief pitchers to post a season since 1961 with 100 ERA+ in 50+ IP, all in relief, while averaging one IP per apperance and one inherited runner per IP. While neither of those markers is unusual by itself, together they become very unusual indeed. More after the jump.
As play began on Friday, 25 teams stood within two games of a playoff berth, including all 10 clubs in the East divisions. Let’s list the early games in order of the winner’s record:
@Brewers 5, Cubs 2 — What’s not to like? Matt Garza turned in Milwaukee’s 18th quality start, tied for the MLB lead. Three quick hits to start the 1st built a 2-0 Brewers lead, and they never looked back in racing to a 17-6 record. Their top three batters reached eight times, and each swiped a bag against Welington Castillo, who’s caught just one of 19 thieves. Three hits by Carlos Gomez gave the Crew five regulars over .300, a correct challenge led to an extra run, Khris Davis made a breathtaking grab, and K-Rod stayed doubly perfect with his 10th save and 13th scoreless outing (5 hits, 3 walks, 20 Ks).
A few weeks ago, I introduced seven questions I expected to explore over the course of this season with regard to the use and efficacy of bunts. I’ve been tracking bunts by National League teams in an attempt to gain a better understanding of their effect on win probability and whether they’re being used wisely. As is the case with anything one might study for three weeks in April, the results bounced around a little bit early on, before three crazy days of bunts this weekend.
More on the weekend, and the season, in bunts after the jump.
Yankees 14, @Red Sox 5 — “Mike Carp now pitching for Boston” wasn’t on John Farrell’s chalkboard as he mapped out the rubber game, but sometimes you just have to get through the night. Carp almost went unscathed, with a DP after a leadoff walk, and a full count to Brett Gardner. But that payoff missed, and three more passes ensued before Kelly Johnson fouled out on a 3-2 pitch. That brought Boston’s totals to a very un-2014 12 walks, 2 strikeouts, a standard not seen since 2000, and not by the BoSox since 1950. (Now, that’s the right era.)
Toronto visited frigid Minneapolis last week and played 3 games in sub-40 degree weather, the last two in a double-header occasioned by a snow-out the day before. But, that’s not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about what happened in the series finale when the Blue Jays took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning, with apparently good prospects for splitting the twin-bill and taking the rubber match of the series.
But, it didn’t work out that way. Instead, assorted Toronto relievers walked 8 Twins in the frame, resulting in 6 runs scored with just one batted ball leaving the infield. Those 8 walks were among 12 issued during the game, only the 2nd time since 2012 that a team has been so generous in a 9-inning game. Going back a little further, it was the 10th such game since 2008. But, that compares very favorably with the 6 prior years (2002-07) when there were 23 such contests.
After the jump, more on games when nobody on a pitching staff seems able to find the plate.
Diamondbacks 7, @Cubs 5 — In a performance sadly apt for the occasion, Chicago blew a 5-2 lead in the 9th, contributing two walks and an error to their own demise on the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field. Miguel Montero slipped the 2-out tying hit in front of RF Justin Ruggiano, who then played Aaron Hill’s high fly into a go-ahead triple, adding injury to insult. It was a tough ending for Ruggiano, whose first Wrigley wallop had built the 5-2 bulge.
Angels 7, @Nationals 2 — There would be no long wait at the doorstep for Albert Pujols. In the 1st inning, first time seeing Taylor Jordan, he watched a ball and a strike, then focused all eyes on the 3-run moonbeam that put him on the hill. Jordan won the next battle on strikes, and he got ahead 1-and-2 in Albert’s third trip. Kid, this ain’t yer night. The historic wallop was all that you’d want it to be.
While not all these players had fabled careers, all did reach the 1000 game milestone (or are on that trajectory) and all received MVP votes at some point in their careers. But, that’s not the common thread connecting them.
What is the batting feat that only these players have achieved since 1914?
Congratulations to HowardR and Richard Chester! They teamed up to identify that only these quiz players have started a season since 1914 hitting safely in 20 or more consecutive games in which they had a PA. Those streaks and more are after the jump.