Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Good Things...

I don't want to be sucked into an excuse-making apologia, so I'll be blunt: you've undoubtedly noticed a lack of regular updates on this blog, stretching back over a period of months. While I still enjoy the obscure minutia of baseball history, and I do still write occasionally at Brew Crew Ball, I am not able to devote as much time to research as I used to. Call it a lack of inspiration, a dwindling of desire, or whatever you will, but it's time to give up the illusion that I'll post regularly again.

If you've got questions or comments about previous posts or have something you want me to research, drop me a line. It's worth noting that my top research tool over the past few years has been the Play Index. It has expanded greatly over time and features a free trial until November 20th, so play around and see what you can find.

Thanks for reading and providing input over the past two years.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

60+ Steals of Second Base

Since 1898*, only four players have stolen 100 bases in a season. Maury Wills swiped 104 bags in 1962, Lou Brock took 118 in 1974, and Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman did it multiple times in the 1980s. Of those four speedsters, only Lou Brock had at least 100 steals of second base in that season. In fact, a stunning 112 of his 118 swipes were of second base.

Below is the leaderboard of the most steals of second base in a season since 1954.

RankNameYear2B SBTotal SB
1Lou Brock1974112118
2Rickey Henderson198294130
3Omar Moreno19809196
4Maury Wills196286104
5Vince Coleman198785109

Tim Raines19838590
7Rickey Henderson198082100
8Ron LeFlore19808097
9Rickey Henderson198379108

Willie Wilson19797983
11Vince Coleman198578110

Maury Wills19657894
13Vince Coleman198676107

Rudy Law19837677
15Tim Raines19827478
16Omar Moreno19797377

Ron LeFlore19797378
18Rickey Henderson19867287

Lou Brock19667274
20Tim Raines19847175

Dave Collins19807179
22Willie Wilson19806979
23Rickey Henderson19856580

Davey Lopes19756577
25Eric Davis19866480

Tim Raines19856470
27Tony Womack19996372

Omar Moreno19786371

Ron LeFlore19786368

Lou Brock19736370
31Jose Reyes20076278

Rickey Henderson19886293

Joe Morgan19756267

Mickey Rivers19756270
35Kenny Lofton19936170

Joe Morgan19736167
Chone Figgins20056062

Scott Podsednik20046070

Brian Hunter19976074

Tim Raines19866070

Juan Samuel19846072

Lonnie Smith19826068

Tim Raines19816071

Billy North19766075

Retrosheet data splitting players' stolen bases out by base only goes back to 1954, so early twentieth-century basestealers like Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Clyde Milan, and Bob Bescher are unfortunately ignored. It is likely at least one of them (and/or another player) belongs somewhere on the above list.

* - the modern definition of the stolen base did not come into being until 1898. For more information about the change in definition over time, the wikipedia entry on the stolen base rule's evolution is here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

.300 Hitters Who Didn't Stick

One of baseball's "big" numbers is .300. If you hit .300 or better, you're a good hitter. As the following players can attest, however, hitting .300 isn't always enough to stick in the major leagues.

Since 1954, thirteen players have hit .300 in more than 50 but fewer than 500 career plate appearances. Players who appeared in the majors during 2009 were not included. I chose fifty PA as the minimum because it takes at least ten starts to rack up that many times at the plate. Impressive as John Paciorek's career was, it doesn't fit the spirit of this post. By the end of this post, you'll see why I used 500 as the maximum.

Kevin Rhomberg1982-198426-28
Randy Asadoor198623
Rudy Pemberton1995-199725-27
Joe Hall1994-1995
Norris Hopper2006-200827-29
Victor Mata1984-198523-24
Bob Hazle1955
D.T. Cromer2000-200129-30
Eddy Garabito200528
Bob Henley199825
Andy Barkett200126
Jose Ortiz1969-197122-24
Gerry Davis1983

The position listed is where the player spent the most time. Almost every player on the list played two or more positions.

Bob Hazle is probably the most famous name on this list. He hit .403 down the stretch in 1957 to help the Braves win the NL pennant. A slow start in 1958 doomed his career. Norris Hooper may still appear again in the majors. He played in AAA for the Reds, White Sox, and Nationals in 2009.

It's worth noting that two pitchers also qualified under the 50-500 PA criteria. Terry Forster, who pitched for five teams from 1971 to 1984, hit .397/.413/.474 over 86 plate appearances during his career. He was one for four as a pinch hitter. Renie Martin, who pitched for three teams from 1979 to 1984, hit .301 over 90 plate appearances. He was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter.

Obviously, small sample size applies to all of these players. Who knows if they would have been able to hit .300 over a longer career. The fact remains, however, that they hit well in the few opportunities they were given.

I thought it would be interesting to post the following list as well. If you take out active players, here are the .300 hitters who debuted in 1954 or later with the fewest career plate appearances (min. 400):
  1. Norris Hopper, 440 (.316)
  2. Lyman Bostock, 2214 (.311)
  3. Reggie Jefferson, 2300 (.300)
  4. Manny Mota, 4227 (.304)
  5. Rusty Greer, 4420 (.305)
  6. Hal Morris, 4443 (.304)
  7. John Kruk, 4603 (.300)
  8. Mike Greenwell, 5166 (.303)
  9. Ralph Garr, 5456 (.306)
  10. Pedro Guerrero, 6115 (.300)
It looks like Norris Hopper has found a uncomfortable niche between flash in the pan and solid regular.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Most Career PA, Zero Triples

Admittedly I don't watch him all that often, but Ryan Howard doesn't seem like a very fast ballplayer to me. Call it an assumption about large first basemen. Howard hit a triple in tonight's NLCS game and I figured it had to be one of only a few in his career. It turns out it was his first in postseason play, but twelfth overall in his major league career. Not only that, but he stole eight bases this year. You learn something new every day, I suppose.

It seems as though if a player plays long enough, he'll wind up hitting a triple. Cecil Fielder had six triples by the time he swiped his first base, over 1000 games into his career. Javier Valentin may never have attempted to steal a base but he legged out five triples in his career. Bill Schroeder, a run-of-the-mill 1980s catcher, brags about how his only career triple, also his first major league hit, must have screwed up scouting reports on him for a while.

But not every player is lucky enough to accomplish the career cycle. The following players just couldn't hit it far enough away from the defense to run 270 feet.

Most Career PA, Zero Triples
(position players)
  1. Johnny Estrada, 2244
  2. Jason Phillips, 1537
  3. Mark Parent, 1428
  4. Craig Worthington, 1423
  5. Ramon Castro, 1400*
  6. Sal Fasano, 1245*
  7. Earl Averill, 1217
  8. Aaron Guiel, 1099
  9. Kelly Shoppach, 1043*
  10. Doc Edwards, 973
  11. Jim Traber, 897
  12. Geronimo Gil, 887
  13. Chris Coste, 885*
  14. Jeff Mathis, 861*
  15. Troy Neel, 861
  16. Bob Uecker, 843
  17. Brian Giles, 791
  18. Hawk Taylor, 766
  19. Bob Burda, 723
  20. Scott Hemond, 687
* - active player (majors or minors in 2009)

Worthington (3B), Guiel (RF), Traber (1B), Neel (1B), Giles (2B), and Burda (1B) are the non-catchers on the above list. Giles, not related to the current Padre, actually stole seventeen bases one season. Of course, he was caught ten times that year. The active non-catcher leader is Scott Thorman, with 440. Thorman spent 2009 in AAA with Kansas City and Texas. Among players who appeared in the majors in 2009, Paul Janish is the active leader with 381. Robert Andino is seven behind Janish.

Most Career PA, Zero Triples
  1. Gaylord Perry, 1220
  2. Whitey Ford, 1208
  3. Tommy John, 1030
  4. Lefty Gomez, 1024
  5. Bob Buhl, 952
  6. Burt Hooten, 913
  7. Curt Davis, 904
  8. Andy Benes, 880
  9. Larry Dierker, 876
  10. Sandy Koufax, 858
  11. Dave McNally, 848
  12. Rick Rhoden, 830
  13. Andy Messersmith, 826
  14. Mike Krukow, 819
  15. Dick Donovan, 801
  16. Darryl Kile, 786
  17. Ken Raffensberger, 779
  18. Dean Chance, 759
  19. Pat Malone, 752
  20. Mike Scott, 743
No active players are in the top twenty. The active leader is Jason Schmidt with 712. Randy Johnson is at 691 and Roy Oswalt is third with 670. One notable in the above list: Bob Buhl's 0 for 70 in 1962 is a record for hitting futility.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Three True Outcomes Per Plate Appearance, 1913-2009

An update to my Three True Outcomes (TTO) posts of January 2008 and July 2009. This version is complete through 2009. Once again, I have expanded the board by five more places.

Most Career TTO/PA, 1913-2009, min. 3000 PA

Adam Dunn
Rob Deer45121409575230.4907
Ryan Howard
Jim Thome94632313
Mark McGwire766015961317583.4564
Carlos Pena
Mickey Tettleton57451307949245.4353
Pat Burrell5864
Jay Buhner59271406792310.4231
Gorman Thomas54861339697268.4200
Brad Wilkerson
12Danny Tartabull58421362768262.4094
13Don Lock3116776373122.4079
14Jose Canseco81291942906462.4072
Troy Glaus
Jason Bay
17Mickey Mantle990917101733536.4016
18Reggie Jackson1141625971375563.3972
Nick Swisher
Darryl Strawberry63261352816335.3957
Gene Tenace5525998984201.3951
Pete Incaviglia46771277360206.3941
Richie Sexson
Eric Davis61471398740282.3937
25Jim Edmonds73071669974382
Cecil Fielder
Ray Lankford
Mike Schmidt
Harmon Killebrew
Sammy Sosa
Mike Cameron

If you carry it out beyond four decimal places the ties go away but, hey, I wanted an excuse to include another active player.

Russell Branyan is poised to jump atop the table with 176 more plate apperances. Through 2824 career PA, he has 946 strikeouts, 339 walks, and 164 home runs, good for a .5131 TTO/PA. If you add the necessary 176 TTO-less PA to get to 3000, he still places third with .4830. Not bad. Bo Jackson, of all people, pops up between Pete Incaviglia and Richie Sexson by the same method.

Another player who should make his way into the table next year is Brad Hawpe. He sits at .3983 after 2807 career plate appearances. If Tony Clark signs on somewhere next season, he might work his way back onto the list. He's currently 32nd at .3881.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Most Runs Allowed in a Season, All Earned

In 2009, Houston's Roy Oswalt allowed 83 runs in 181 1/3 innings pitched. Every single one of his runs were earned. He became just the twentieth pitcher in major league history to allow more than 70 runs in a season with all of them earned. The full list:
  1. Joel Pineiro, 2005 SEA, 118 R
  2. Dick Ruthven, 1976 ATL, 112 R
  3. Frank Tanana, 1990 DET, 104 R
  4. Brian Anderson, 1998 ARI, 100 R
  5. Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2007 BOS, 100 R
  6. Rick Sutcliffe, 1988 CHC, 97 R
  7. Kelvim Escobar, 2004 ANA, 91 R
  8. Curt Schilling, 2006 BOS, 90 R
  9. Bobby Jones, 1998 NYM, 88 R
  10. John Thomson, 1998 COL, 86 R
  11. Omar Olivares, 1992 STL, 84 R
  12. Roy Oswalt, 2009 HOU, 83 R
  13. Scott Erickson, 2000 BAL, 81 R
  14. Art Decatur, 1927 PHI, 78 R
  15. Dennis Ribant, 1967 PIT, 78 R
  16. Hideki Irabu, 1998 NYY, 78 R
  17. Ryan Dempster, 1999 FLA, 77 R
  18. Hideo Nomo, 2004 LAD, 77 R
  19. John Farrell, 1993 CAL, 74 R
  20. Phil Regan, 1961 DET, 70 R

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grand Slams by Pitchers

Here is a list of all the grand slams hit by pitchers since 1954:

4/22/1956Don LarsenNYYBOSFrank Sullivan42-1
7/10/1958Lew BurdetteMLN@LADJohnny Podres40-0
4/15/1959Bob GrimKCA@CHWBarry Latman34-0
8/1/1959Bob PurkeyCINCHCJohn Buzhardt35-2
8/14/1960Camilo PascualWSH@NYYBob Turley61-1
8/9/1961Don DrysdaleLADMLNDon Nottebart21-1
5/30/1962Pedro RamosCLE@BALChuck Estrada63-0
8/2/1962Art MahaffeyPHI@NYMCraig Anderson32-1
5/31/1963Orlando PenaKCAWSAClaude Osteen54-3
7/15/1963Carl WilleyNYMHOUKen Johnson21-2
4/27/1965Camilo PascualMIN@CLEStan Williams13-0
7/20/1965Mel StottlemyreNYYBOSBill Monbouquett52-1
9/29/1965Bob GibsonSTL@SFGGaylord Perry84-0
7/3/1966Tony CloningerATL@SFGBob Priddy13-0
7/3/1966Tony CloningerATL@SFGRay Sadecki49-0
8/13/1966Earl WilsonDET@BOSDan Osinski76-1
5/20/1967Jack HamiltonNYMSTLAl Jackson20-0
6/1/1967John O'DonoghueCLE@DETDenny McLain62-0
5/5/1968Gary PetersCHWNYYAl Downing41-0
7/28/1968Al McBeanPITSTLLarry Jaster53-1
8/26/1968Dave McNallyBALOAKChuck Dobson13-0
7/9/1969Fred TalbotSEPCALEddie Fisher63-0
9/4/1970Mike CorkinsSDP@CINJim Merritt43-0
5/11/1971Steve DunningCLEOAKDiego Segui21-0
8/28/1971Rick WisePHISFGDon McMahon73-3
9/16/1972Burt HootonCHCNYMTom Seaver34-1
7/26/1973Bob GibsonSTLNYMJohn Strohmayer56-1
8/21/1973Rick WiseSTL@ATLRoric Harrison33-0
6/24/1974Jim LonborgPHI@MONChuck Taylor34-0
7/6/1977Don StanhouseMON@CHCBill Bonham21-1
9/27/1977Larry ChristensonPHI@CHCDennis Lamp77-2
8/26/1979Bruce KisonPIT@SDPBob Shirley21-0
10/1/1980Enrique RomoPIT@NYMRoy Lee Jackson86-3
9/11/1982Scott SandersonMON@CHCRandy Martz33-1
5/15/1984Joaquin AndujarSTLATLJeff Dedmon85-1
5/16/1984Steve CarltonPHI@LADFernando Valenzu41-1
9/12/1985Don RobinsonPITCHCWarren Brusstar86-2
8/10/1986Bob ForschSTLPITMike Bielecki51-0
5/29/1995Chris HammondFLAHOUShane Reynolds20-2
6/27/1995Denny NeaglePIT@CHCJim Bullinger62-2
8/25/1995Jeff JudenPHILADJohn Cummings410-2
9/7/1996Donovan OsborneSTLSDPAndy Ashby51-1
7/20/1998Kevin TapaniCHC@ATLDenny Neagle31-0
9/2/1998Kent MerckerSTL@FLAJesus Sanchez43-0
5/24/2000Shawn EstesSFGMONMike Johnson57-0
9/29/2001Denny NeagleCOLMILJimmy Haynes49-6
6/2/2002Robert PersonPHIMONBruce Chen13-0
7/7/2006Dontrelle WillisFLA@NYMJose Lima43-0
6/23/2008Felix HernandezSEA@NYMJohan Santana20-0
9/22/2008Jason MarquisCHC@NYMJonathon Niese42-2
10/1/2009Chris CarpenterSTL@CINKip Wells21-0

UPDATE: Two pitchers have hit postseason grand slams. Both were on the same team in the same year. On October 3, 1970, Baltimore's Mike Cuellar hit one off Minnesota's Jim Perry in Game 1 of the ALCS. Ten days later, Dave McNally hit one in Game 3 of the World Series off Cincinnati's Wayne Granger.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Most SB in a Season with 0 CS

On February 22, 2008, I posted about players who stole the most bases in a season without being caught. Since the regular season is now over for all but two teams, it's time to put the new record holder atop the list. As noted in the previous post, the AL has recorded caught stealings since 1920. The NL has did not consistently record caught stealings until 1951.

Most Stolen Bases in a Season, 0 Caught Stealings
  1. Chase Utley, 2009, 23
  2. Kevin McReynolds, 1988, 21
  3. Paul Molitor, 1994, 20
  4. Gary Thurman, 1989, 16
  5. Jimmy Sexton, 1982, 16
  6. Davey Lopes, 1984, 15
  7. Terry Shumpert, 1999, 14
  8. Sean Berry, 1994, 14
  9. Carlos Beltran, 2000, 13
  10. Desi Relaford, 2000, 13
  11. Rex Hudler, 1995, 13
  12. Tim Raines, 1994, 13
  13. Lee Tinsley, 1994, 13
  14. Tom Tresh, 1964, 13
  15. Leon Culberson, 1943, 13
  16. Johnny Damon, 2009, 12
  17. David Dellucci, 2003, 12
  18. Paul Molitor, 1995, 12
  19. Fred Lynn, 1980, 12
  20. Miguel Dilone, 1977, 12
  21. Alexei Casilla, 2009, 11
  22. Albert Belle, 1996, 11
  23. Joe Carter, 1994, 11
  24. Tony Bernazard, 1982, 11
  25. Johnny Bench, 1975, 11
  26. Jesse Hill, 1936, 11
  27. Jason Bay, 2008, 10
  28. Michael Young, 2008, 10
  29. Mark Teahen, 2006, 10
  30. Miguel Tejada, 2003, 10
  31. Jim Eisenreich, 1995, 10
  32. John Jaha, 1992, 10
  33. Frank Duffy, 1976, 10
  34. Dan Meyer, 1976, 10
  35. Red Wilson, 1958, 10
  36. Charlie Gehringer, 1940, 10
Congratulations to Chase Utley for setting a new record. Utley isn't the only new addition to the list. Johnny Damon and Alexei Casilla also joined this year. Jason Bay and Michael Young should have been added after 2008 (oops).

Thanks to Tom for commenting on my February 2008 post and bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Needs Lefties, Part Two

In my last post, I looked at teams that used only two lefthanded pitchers in a season. In response to a comment on that post, I figured it would be worthwhile to look at teams that didn't use any lefties. If you go back to the early days of professional baseball, it would be easier to list teams that did use a lefty - the 1876 NL had no confirmed lefthanders (three clubs had pitchers of unknown handedness). Teams remained lefty-averse (or at least didn't employ memorably-handed hurlers) through the early 1890s.

Only four teams since 1900 have gone through an entire season without a single lefthander:
But does it really matter how many lefties you have if you never use them anyway? Here are the teams since 1954 with the fewest batters faced by lefthanders:
Note: the 1994 Los Angeles Dodgers (206 BF), 1994 Oakland Athletics (314 BF), 1981 Cincinnati Reds (344 BF), and 1994 Cleveland Indians (346 PA) played in strike-shortened seasons.

With six games left to play, the 2009 Cardinals duo of Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes has faced a combined 335 batters.

This year's Cardinals and a couple other teams above spoil my ending a bit, but it sure looks to me like the answer to "Who needs lefties?" is "winning teams."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who Needs Lefties?

With just seventeen games to go this season, the St. Louis Cardinals have used only two lefthanded pitchers, Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes. Miller and Reyes are the only lefties on their current roster, so it is unlikely a third lefty will make an appearance for the club.

Since expansion in 1961, only nineteen other teams have made it through a season with only two lefthanders:
  • 1961 Baltimore Orioles: Steve Barber & Billy Hoeft
  • 1965 Boston Red Sox: Dennis Bennett & Arnold Earley
  • 1969 Los Angeles Dodgers: Jim Brewer & Claude Osteen
  • 1971 Montreal Expos: Dan McGinn & John O'Donoghue
  • 1974 Montreal Expos: Terry Enyart & Balor Moore
  • 1976 Oakland Athletics: Vida Blue & Paul Lindblad
  • 1977 Houston Astros: Floyd Bannister & Joe Sambito
  • 1981 Cincinnati Reds: Charlie Liebrandt & Joe Price
  • 1982 Chicago Cubs: Willie Hernandez & Ken Kravec
  • 1982 Toronto Blue Jays: Jerry Garvin & Dave Geisel
  • 1983 Cincinnati Reds: Joe Price & Bill Scherrer
  • 1983 Toronto Blue Jays: Stan Clarke & Dave Geisel
  • 1984 Chicago Cubs: Ron Meridith & Steve Trout
  • 1993 Los Angeles Dodgers: Omar Daal & Steve Wilson
  • 1996 Chicago Cubs: Larry Casian & Bob Patterson
  • 2004 Anaheim Angels: Dusty Bergman & Jarrod Washburn
  • 2006 LAnaheim Angels: J.C. Romero & Joe Saunders
  • 2007 LAnaheim Angels: Darren Oliver & Joe Saunders
  • 2008 LAnaheim Angels: Darren Oliver & Joe Saunders
With Brian Fuentes newly installed as closer, it took the Angels until the second game of the 2009 season to have three different lefties pitch.

The 1947 Philadelphia Athletics were the last team to use only one lefty. Lou Brissie started all of one game that year, allowing five runs in seven innings.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

SO > TB, Minimum 200 AB

This post details one of my personal favorite "teams." It's weird, comparing strikeouts to total bases, but whatever. I guess it springs out of the generalization that strikeouts are okay if you trade them for power. These players just couldn't break even.

The full list since 1901 can be found by following the above link. Andruw Jones and Tony Pena Jr. were new additions last season. The following players have a chance to join them in 2009:

Chris Davis, 128 K, 126 TB, 303 AB
Bill Hall, 95 K, 94 TB, 270 AB
Kelly Shoppach, 90 K, 91 TB, 235 AB
Koyie Hill, 67 K, 71 TB, 212 AB
Jeff Mathis, 64 K, 64 K, 198 AB

Jeff Mathis had as many strikeouts as total bases in 2008 as well. At least he's consistent.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Update: Last Position Players to Pitch by Team

Previous installments can be found here: April 2008, May 2009.

With September call-ups a couple days away, it is likely the days of position players pitching are over for another season. Here is the full list of 2009 position player pitchers:

Ross Gload (FLA) - May 22
Nick Green (BOS) - August 27
Paul Janish (CIN) - May 6 & July 6
Mark Loretta (LAD) - July 28
Cody Ross (FLA) - April 26
Nick Swisher (NYY) - April 13
Jonathan Van Every (BOS) - April 30
Josh Wilson (ARI & SDP) - May 11 & June 7

Here's the updated list by team:

Last Position Player to Pitch by Team
(through 8/30/2009)

Arizona DiamondbacksJosh Wilson
Atlanta BravesJohn Russell6-25-1989
Baltimore OriolesManny Alexander4-19-1996
Boston Red SoxNick Green
Chicago CubsGary Gaetti7-3-1999
Chicago White SoxDave Martinez8-4-1995
Cincinnati RedsPaul Janish7-6-2009
Cleveland IndiansTim Laker4-20-2004
Colorado RockiesTodd Zeile9-14-2002
Detroit TigersShane Halter10-1-2000
Florida MarlinsRoss Gload
Houston AstrosTim Bogar6-24-2000
Kansas City RoyalsTony Pena
Los Angeles AngelsChili Davis6-17-1993
Los Angeles DodgersMark Loretta
Milwaukee BrewersTrent Durrington4-17-2004
Minnesota TwinsJohn Moses7-31-1990
New York MetsTodd Zeile7-26-2004
New York YankeesNick Swisher
Oakland AthleticsFrank Menechino7-18-2000
Philadelphia PhilliesTomas Perez5-13-2002
Pittsburgh PiratesAbraham Nunez5-30-2004
San Diego PadresJosh Wilson
Seattle MarinersJamie Burke
San Francisco GiantsGreg Litton7-4-1991
St. Louis CardinalsAaron Miles6-13-2008
Tampa Bay RaysJosh Wilson6-8-2007
Texas RangersScott Sheldon9-6-2000
Toronto Blue JaysFrank Menechino8-28-2004
Washington NationalsJunior Noboa7-20-1990*

* - Fellow position player Dave Martinez pitched right before Noboa in the same game.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

20+ Home Runs

A friend of mine brought this to my attention. Robinson Cano hit his twentieth home run of the season last night, making him the sixth Yankees hitter to reach that number in 2009. With one more 20 HR player, the Yankees will tie the record for most players with 20+ HR on one team. The current record holders:
  • 1996 Baltimore Orioles
    Brady Anderson - 50
    Rafael Palmeiro - 39
    Bobby Bonilla - 28
    Cal Ripken, Jr. - 26
    Chris Hoiles - 25
    Roberto Alomar - 22
    B.J. Surhoff - 21

  • 2000 Toronto Blue Jays
    Carlos Delgado - 41
    Tony Batista - 41
    Brad Fullmer - 32
    Jose Cruz, Jr. - 31
    Raul Mondesi - 24
    Shannon Stewart - 21
    Darrin Fletcher - 20

  • 2005 Texas Rangers
    Mark Teixeira - 43
    Alfonso Soriano - 36
    David Dellucci - 29
    Kevin Mench - 25
    Hank Blalock - 25
    Michael Young - 24
    Rod Barajas - 21
The Yankees have two more players who may well end up with 20 home runs. Derek Jeter has 16 and Jorge Posada hit his 17th earlier tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's Lenn Sakata Day

Lenn Sakata should have been one of those ballplayers that spent a few seasons in the majors, had a few timely hits, played decent defense, and then slipped out of baseball consciousness.

For the most part, that is the type of ballplayer he was. Mention the name Sakata to baseball fans today and you probably won't get much of a reaction. A few might think the name is familiar, and some diehards might remember seeing him play. Like so many background players, if he is remembered today, it is because of his role in some strange part of baseball history. Would anyone remember Bill Wambsganss today without his triple play? Would Brewers fans remember Rick Manning if he hadn't gotten the walk-off hit robbing Paul Molitor of a final chance to extend his hitting streak? So it is with Lenn Sakata...

Lenn Sakata was born in 1954 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and graduated from Kalani High School in that city in 1971. He played college ball as an infielder at Gonzaga University, earning All-Big Sky conference honors in 1973 and 1974 and second team All-American honors in the latter year. In 1974, he set a school record for RBI (68) that would stand until some guy named Jason Bay broke it in 1999. After his excellent 1974 season, Sakata was selected in the fifth round of the 1974 draft by the San Diego Padres but did not sign. Back then, baseball had a secondary draft in January for players who either did not sign or were not eligible to be drafted in June. In the January 1975 draft, the Milwaukee Brewers saw fit to select Sakata with the tenth pick. He began his professional career later that spring.

He began his minor league career about as far from Hawaii as he could get in organized baseball. He was assigned to the Brewers AA affiliate in Thetford Mines, Quebec. Once a hotbed of asbestos mining, Thetford Mines is about 120 miles (190 km) northeast of Montreal. Sakata, playing second base, shared the infield with future Brewer Jim Gantner. Both players hit .257 in the Eastern League, but only Sakata was promoted to AAA Spokane for the 1976 season. Back in his college town, Sakata hit .280 with ten home runs. He followed that up by hitting .304 in 1977 and earning a callup to the majors. When Sakata took the field in the first game of a July 21 doubleheader, Sakata became only the second Japanese-American to play in a major league game (the first was Ryan Kurosaki, a Cardinals pitcher).

Sakata struggled as a Brewer, hitting .162/.209/.214 in 53 games for Milwaukee. He started the 1978 season with Milwaukee, but a poor .192 average in 86 plate appearances earned him a ticket to Spokane. His final shot in Milwaukee came in September 1979 after he once again hit .300 in AAA. Seizing his chance, Sakata went 7 for 14 with two doubles in four games at the end of the year. The Brewers were so impressed they promptly shipped Sakata to Baltimore for righthanded reliever John Flinn. Flinn spent one unimpressive year in Milwaukee, but Sakata spent six seasons with the Orioles. After tearing up the International League for a month, Sakata was called up to Baltimore and hit his usual .190. He played a little shortstop for the first time in his pro career, however, and that earned him a spot on the 1981 Baltimore squad. He finally cracked .200 that year and had his best season in 1982, hitting .259/.323/.370 in nearly 400 plate appearances while playing second and short. In fact, he was the starting shortstop until a guy named Cal Ripken moved over from third in July. Undoubtedly Sakata would have started again at short had Ripken needed a day off. So much for that idea.

Sakata was once again a backup second baseman in 1983, but it was his appearance at a different position that year that remains memorable. Coming into play on August 24, the Orioles were 1/2 game behind Milwaukee for first place and one of four teams within 4 games of the division lead. Baltimore was hosting Toronto, the third place team. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh with one out and the bases loaded, manager Joe Altobelli pinch-hit for starting catcher Rick Dempsey. The move didn't work and the Orioles didn't score that inning. After the inning, Lenn Sakata came into the game at second base and thus was around for the Orioles' ninth-inning rally. Sakata walked and later scored the tying run, but not before Benny Ayala pinch-hit for backup catcher Joe Nolan. The Orioles couldn't plate the winning run. Lacking catchers, the Orioles were forced to use Sakata behind the plate, outfielder Gary Roenicke at third, and outfielder John Lowenstein at second base.

The first batter, Cliff Johnson, hit a go-ahead home run and the second batter, Barry Bonnell, singled to center. That was it for pitcher Tim Stoddard, and lefthander Tippy Martinez came in to stem the tide. Eager to steal off non-catcher Sakata, Bonnell was promptly picked off first. Dave Collins then walked and, also eager to test Sakata, was promptly picked off. Willie Upshaw then hit an infield single to second. Following the example of his teammates, he leaned too far and was also picked off first.

In the bottom of the tenth, Cal Ripken tied the game with a leadoff home run. A walk, groundout, intentional walk, and strikeout set it up for Lenn Sakata to step in the box. Randy Moffitt, a pitcher Sakata had never faced in the majors, was on the mound. In this weirdest of games, what happened next only made sense. Sakata hit his second home run of the season to win the game.

Baltimore went on to win the division by six games and won the World Series in five games over Philadelphia. Sakata spent two more years as a backup second baseman in Baltimore, hitting .191 and 227. He had a couple last gasps in 1986 and 1987 with Oakland and New York, but he finished his career four hits short of 300 with a .230 average. Sakata went on to coaching, both in America and Japan, setting a record for most wins in the California League, and currently manages the Japanese Chiba Lotte Marines farm team.

Depending on how his coaching career progresses, Sakata may eventually be known for more than being behind the plate while Tippy Martinez set a pickoff record or being the second Japanese-American to play in the majors. No matter what Sakata does going forward, however, the August 24, 1983, game between Toronto and Baltimore (and Sakata himself) will be remembered for both dramatic moments and a trivia-producing extra inning.

More reading about Sakata and the game:
Lenn Sakata at

Lenn Sakata at The Baseball Cube
Box score and play-by-play of August 24, 1983 Toronto-Baltimore game
The Baltimore Sun remembers the game with some great quotes
Seattle Times about Sakata's current situation and view of baseball
Press release for Sakata setting California League wins record
New York Times article about Don Wakamatsu with some Sakata information

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unassisted Triple Play

Eric Bruntlett made only the fifteenth unassisted triple play in baseball history today. It ended the game, only the second unassisted triple play to do so.

You can watch the highlight here:
Direct link to video:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Last Left-Handed Catcher

The New York Times looks at Benny Distefano and the dearth of left-handed catchers. Distefano's appearance behind the plate on August 18, 1989 (box score) remains the last time a lefty has donned the tools of ignorance.

Hat tip to Bucs Dugout.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting Hit Hard in 2009

What do Trevor Cahill and Jeff Suppan have in common? They are the only two pitchers qualified for the ERA title (1 IP per team game) who have allowed opponents to slug .500 or more this season. Suppan sits at .512 while Cahill is at .505. Suppan will shortly fall off the qualified list, as he is currently injured and hasn't pitched since July 27. His fellow Brewer, Braden Looper, is poised to take his place on the list as he has allowed opponents to slug .499 this year. Jeremy Guthrie (.499), Armando Galarraga (.494), and Jamie Moyer (.491) are also nearby.

Since 1954, forty-four qualified pitchers have allowed opponents to slug .500 over a season. Twenty have cracked the .520 plateau:

Jim Deshaies1994MIN.583
Jose Lima2000HOU.578
Darrell May2004KCR.555
Bill Gullickson1994DET.552
Brian Anderson2004KCR.545
Dave Mlicki2001DET/HOU.545
Brandon Backe2008HOU.544
Jose Lima2005KCR.544
Eric Milton2005CIN.543
Terry Mulholland1994NYY.539

The abbreviated 1994 season and Jose Lima are both well-represented. Pitchers just didn't have as much time to a) drop their slugging percentage to something more respectable or b) get replaced before reaching the usual 162 innings to qualify. The other seven seasons all took place this decade, which makes sense as slugging percentages league-wide have reached new heights. Here's the .500+ opponent slugging allowed list prior to 1994:

Don Newcombe
Jack Lamabe
Bob Knepper

Yep, that's it.

A high slugging percentage allowed is fueling Jeff Suppan's run at another distinction. He likely will not reach the required 162 innings, but if the season ended today he would be only the ninth qualifying pitcher to allow an OPS of .900 or higher. The current list of eight is the highest slugging allowed list jumbled a bit:

Jim Deshaies1994MIN.965
Jose Lima2000HOU.942
Dave Mlicki2001DET/HOU.927
Brandon Backe2008HOU.920
Jose Lima2005KCR.917
Bill Gullickson
Brian Anderson
Darrell May

Suppan has allowed opponents to put up a .900 OPS this year. Cahill, if you're wondering, is second with an .856 OPS allowed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Games Finished & Saves

As most baseball fans know, Trevor Hoffman is the all-time saves leader with 578 over the length of his career. His 578th save came last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers after a rocky ninth inning. While each save obviously sees him extend his own saves record, last night he tied another career mark. It was his 802nd career game finished, tying him with former saves leader Lee Smith.

Games finished (GF) is, really, a useless counting stat. All it tells you is that such-and-such pitcher was the last reliever to appear in a game for his team. That's not that impressive, right? After all, a guy who mops up blowouts can rack up games finished just as easily as a closer. Then again, chances are that guy mopping up blowouts probably won't stay in the league very long. So, one game finished isn't very impressive, but you have to be pretty darn good to get up to 500-600-700 GF.

With that in mind, here are the sixteen pitchers with over 600 games finished through August 3:
  • Lee Smith, 802
  • Trevor Hoffman, 802
  • John Franco, 774
  • Mariano Rivera, 753
  • Rollie Fingers, 709
  • Jeff Reardon, 695
  • Rich Gossage, 681
  • Roberto Hernandez, 667
  • Hoyt Wilhelm, 651
  • Doug Jones, 640
  • Kent Tekulve, 638
  • Billy Wagner, 637
  • Sparky Lyle, 634
  • Jose Mesa, 633
  • Todd Jones, 619
  • Gene Garber, 609
Three pitchers on that list are still active. Behind them, Troy Percival sits in 27th place with 546 and Jason Isringhausen is 37th with 467. The next healthy player is Francisco Cordero, 55th with 407. The top 1000 can be found here.

Many closers in need of work are used in the ninth inning even when it's not a save situation, so they end up with more games finished than saves. For players who became closers early in their career and never relinquished the role, a large percentage of their relief appearances result in games finished. Here are the top all-time pitchers in terms of game finished per relief appearance (min. 200 GF):
  1. Kazuhiro Sasaki, 201 of 228, 88.2%
  2. John Wetteland, 523 of 601, 87.0%
  3. Bobby Jenks, 228 of 254, 86.8%
  4. Rick Aguilera, 643 of 732, 86.6%
  5. Bryan Harvey, 278 of 322, 86.3%
  6. Robb Nen, 548 of 639, 85.8%
  7. Billy Koch, 325 of 379, 85.8%
  8. Tom Henke, 548 of 642, 85.4%
  9. Jonathan Papelbon, 208 of 244, 85.2%
  10. Mariano Rivera, 753 of 885, 85.1%
Hoffman has finished 802 of his 963 appearances, good for 83.3%.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fewest Team HR at a Position in 2009

Nearly two-thirds of the way through the season, Jason Kendall of the Brewers is hitting .239 and slugging .283. As you might guess, he doesn't have many extra base hits. He has twelve, to be exact, eleven doubles and one triple. He has started 86 of the Brewers 101 games and backup Mike Rivera also is homerless on the year, meaning the Brewers haven't had a single round-tripper from their backstops. What other teams have suffered a homer drought at one position on the diamond? I did not include NL DHs or pitchers.

Fewest Team HR at a Position in 2009
(through 7/28)
  • Milwaukee Brewers, C - 0
  • New York Mets, 2B - 0
  • San Diego Padres, 2B - 1
  • Baltimore Orioles, SS - 2
  • Cincinnati Reds, CF - 2
  • Florida Marlins, 3B - 2
  • Kansas City Royals, SS - 2
  • Minnesota Twins, 2B - 2
  • Minnesota Twins, CF - 2
  • New York Mets, SS - 2
  • San Francisco Giants, SS - 2
  • Washington Nationals, 2B - 2

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buehrle's Streak

Mark Buehrle retired 45 batters in a row to set a new major league record:
  • (July 18 vs. BAL) Markakis flied out to center fielder Wise.
  • (July 23 vs TBR) Upton grounded out, second baseman Nix to first baseman Fields.
  • Crawford grounded out, pitcher Buehrle to first baseman Fields.
  • Longoria struck out.
  • Pena fouled out to first baseman Fields.
  • Zobrist struck out.
  • Burrell flied out to right fielder Dye.
  • Kapler flied out to left fielder Quentin.
  • Hernandez grounded out, shortstop Ramirez to first baseman Fields.
  • Bartlett flied out to left fielder Quentin.
  • Upton struck out.
  • Crawford flied out to left fielder Quentin.
  • Longoria lined out to shortstop Ramirez.
  • Pena grounded out, first baseman Fields to pitcher Buehrle.
  • Zobrist grounded out, shortstop Ramirez to first baseman Fields.
  • Burrell struck out.
  • Kapler grounded out, third baseman Beckham to first baseman Fields.
  • Hernandez grounded out, third baseman Beckham to first baseman Fields.
  • Bartlett grounded out, shortstop Ramirez to first baseman Fields.
  • Upton grounded out, shortstop Ramirez to first baseman Fields.
  • Crawford grounded out, pitcher Buehrle to first baseman Fields.
  • Longoria flied out to right fielder Dye.
  • Pena struck out.
  • Zobrist fouled out to third baseman Beckham.
  • Burrell lined out to third baseman Beckham.
  • Kapler flied out to center fielder Wise.
  • Hernandez struck out.
  • Bartlett grounded out, shortstop Ramirez to first baseman Fields.
  • (July 28 vs MIN) D.Span grounded out, first baseman Konerko to pitcher Buehrle.
  • Mauer grounded out, second baseman Getz to first baseman Konerko.
  • Morneau flied out to right fielder Dye.
  • Cuddyer grounded out, third baseman Beckham to first baseman Konerko.
  • Crede popped out to second baseman Getz.
  • B.Harris grounded out, shortstop Al.Ramirez to first baseman Konerko.
  • C.Gomez struck out.
  • Punto grounded out, third baseman Beckham to first baseman Konerko.
  • A.Casilla grounded out, third baseman Beckham to first baseman Konerko.
  • D.Span grounded out, first baseman Konerko to pitcher Buehrle.
  • Mauer struck out.
  • Morneau grounded out, second baseman Getz to first baseman Konerko.
  • Cuddyer struck out.
  • Crede grounded out, shortstop Al.Ramirez to first baseman Konerko.
  • B.Harris grounded out, shortstop Al.Ramirez to first baseman Konerko.
  • C.Gomez fouled out to third baseman Beckham.
  • Punto grounded out, second baseman Getz to first baseman Konerko.
Buehrle broke the record of 41 in a row that was shared by Jim Barr, a Giants starter in the 1970's, and Buehrle's teammate Bobby Jenks.

Barr retired 41 batters over two starts in 1972 but didn't get a no-hitter out of the deal: pitcher Bob Moose led off an inning with a walk before Barr retired 21 in a row to finish a shutout against the Pirates. Barr retired the first 20 he faced in St. Louis six days later. Bernie Carbo doubled to left to snap the streak.

Jenks, as a closer, did it over 14 games in the summer of 2007. After Ryan Garko homered on July 17, Jenks mowed through everyone until Joey Gathright snapped his streak with a ground ball single to left on August 20.

Fifteen perfect innings. Good job Mark.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jamie Moyer's Milestone

Jamie Moyer is slated to take the mound for the Phillies on Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs. It will be the 603rd start of his career, moving him into a tie with Randy Johnson for 20th all-time. Moyer is also knocking on the door of the top ten in career earned runs allowed, 24 behind #10 Bert Blyleven (1830). He's also getting close to 2000 career runs allowed.

However, neither run record will occur in the immediate future. He will, however, soon reach a milestone that may not be reached for a very long time, if ever. The seventh hit he allows Wednesday night (or from this point forward) will be the 4000th hit allowed of his career. He'll be the 39th pitcher in baseball history to reach that mark and the first since Tom Glavine in 2006. Behind Moyer, there's no one even close to 4000.

Randy Johnson is currently at 3339 hits allowed. John Smoltz just passed 3000, 37-year-old Andy Pettitte is at 2990. Always hittable Livan Hernandez is still five seasons of 200+ hits away from the mark. The top pitchers 30 and younger are Mark Buehrle (30) at 2043, Jon Garland (29) at 1850, and CC Sabathia (28) at 1656. It's hard to stay around long enough to give up 4000 hits, especially with the increase in strikeouts these days compared to the past.

Here are the last ten pitchers to reach the 4000 hit plateau:

NameDateHitter (hit)
Tom GlavineSeptember 19, 2006Josh Willingham (single)
Roger ClemensJune 22, 2006Jason Kubel (double)
Greg MadduxJuly 31, 2005Chad Tracy (double)
Frank TananaAugust 8, 1993Carlos Garcia (single)
Bert BlylevenJuly 14, 1988Ken Gerhart (single)
Don SuttonApril 22, 1985
Bobby Grich (single)
Tommy JohnJuly 21, 1984Jackie Gutierrez (single)
Steve CarltonApril 8, 1984
Nick Esasky (double)
Fergie Jenkins
May 1, 1983
Mike Scioscia (single)
Phil NiekroSeptember 22, 1982
Alan Ashby (single)

Even if someone does reach 4000 hits after Moyer, I have to believe Phil Niekro will be the last pitcher to give up 5000 hits in his career.