Home-Run Derby, the Kind that Counts

Or, part one of a look at the worst year in Toronto’s best decade, through the lens of one historic game. All game records noted are for the searchable era, 1916-present; season marks are since 1901.

The first team with eight home runs in a game were the 1939 Yankees. That record was equaled six times in the next four decades (with one individual 4-HR effort), but it wasn’t topped until the fluke year of 1987, when homers flew as never before. A new season mark for team HRs allowed was established that year, along with four of the top five and eight of the top 15 team totals.

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All-Star Game Records (now updated for 2013 records)

While many of us are familiar with regular season and post-season records, the same may not be true for All-Star game feats. To correct this deficiency, I offer this post for your edification.

Some records to watch for tonight.

  • Most players Age 20 or under, One team – 2, NL (Bryce Harper, Jose Fernandez), also ties record for both teams
  • Most players Age 21 or under, Both Teams – 4, Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Jose Fernandez, each team also ties record for one team
  • Most games, Age 20 or under – 2, Bryce Harper (new record)
  • Most games, Age 21 or under – 2, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout (tie with 11 others)
  • Most AL teams represented, career – 3, Torii Hunter (tie with 12 others)

More All-Star Game records, P-I style, after the jump.

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Balancing the Schedule

It seems like it took 56 to 60 percent of our energy to get there, but we’re finally halfway through the 2013 baseball season.  Perhaps the most fascinating development of the first “half” is the dominance of the AL East, with four teams playing at least .537 baseball, which equates to 87 wins over a full season.  Only eight teams outside the division, and none in the NL West, have won as many games as the fourth-place Yankees.  To top it all off, the team in fifth place is the team many of us expected to win the division.

While this would be a remarkable development taken at face value, it’s even more astonishing when one considers the imbalance in MLB’s schedule.  Those five AL East teams have played 44 percent of their games against each other, obviously breaking even in those games, while compiling a 158-112 record against all other teams.  Essentially, the AL East is a 95-win team when playing outside the conference.

After the jump, we’ll take a look at what balancing the schedule might look like based on early returns from 2013. Continue reading

Quiz – All-Star Catchers (solved)

The players in today’s quiz are the only catchers with a particular All-Star game accomplishment.

What is the feat achieved by no other catcher in the mid-summer classic?

Hint: one of these catchers achieved this feat twice

Congratulations to Nick Pain! With the first comment, he identified these players as the only losing catchers to call for the last pitch of the game, and not catch it (more commonly known as a walk-off win for the other team). Elston Howard has the distinction of doing this twice. The games are after the jump.

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All-Star Plate Appearances, By Franchise

73 different players representing the Yankees have had at least one plate appearance (PA) in an All-Star game (ASG).  That’s the most for any one franchise.  The Dodgers are second, with 70 different players having had at least one PA in an All-Star game.  At the other end of the scale, the Rays franchise has had nine different players with at least one All-Star game PA.

Willie Mays had 79 ASG plate appearances while with the Giants.  That’s the most by any one player representing a particular franchise. Stan Musial had 72 PAs in All-Star Games, all for the Cardinals, his only team — that’s second only to Mays in ASG PAs for a particular franchise.  More on this theme, after the jump.   Continue reading

The Trials and Tribulations of Starlin Castro

There haven’t been too many bright spots in Chicago Cubs baseball over the past few seasons. Apart from Darwin Barney’s spectacular defense at 2nd, the release of Carlos Marmol and some savvy trades that ultimately led to 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo, the bleacher bums haven’t had too much to cheer about since 2008. Starlin Castro was one of those bright spots.

Over the past 3 seasons the Cubs’ shortstop has managed to hit .298/.336/.425 with averages of 9 homers, 9 triples, and 32 doubles per year. That’s excellent production at the plate out of the shortstop position and all those hits netted Castro a pair of All-Star appearances. Castro’s defense at the position has never been up to snuff, but he made positive strides with both his glove and his arm a year ago, and at 23 the hope was that he still had room to improve.

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