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Archive for the ‘Milestones’ Category

Joe Mauer is the American League’s Most Valuable Player.

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And you probably don’t care what I’ve got to say about it! Well, fine then!

You can read about it here.

Or here.

And here.

Why not here?

And here (Or the place where they spelled “league” incorrectly! Chuckle!).

Or there?

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If Greinke doesn’t win the Cy Young, I’m going to…

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So I woke up this morning to find my neighbor distraught. Sometime during the night, someone bashed in the small, blind spot window on the passenger side of his 14-year-old Cutlass Supreme.

But I have more bad news for him.

If the Royal’s Zack Greinke doesn’t win the American League Cy Young award, I’m going to be pacing the neighborhood taking vengeance upon small animals, i.e. squirrels and quail, and irreplaceable car windows.

I’ve already called Neighborhood Watch.

I don’t expect there to be as much competition in the American League Cy Young race as many of the popular media outlets prophesy. It’s going to come down to two guys: the Royal’s Greinke and Seattle Mariner’s ace Felix Hernandez. If anyone else wins, it’s official: I’m switching to football.

First, I think its important to put their numbers side-by-side. Here are their statistics, per order of ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor module:

At just 23-years-old, King Felix finally had the breakout that had tantalized many analysts since the beginning of his career. In 2009, Hernandez posted career highs in wins, innings pitched, games started, strikeouts, and earned run average. He kept lefties to a .228 average and righties to a .226 average using his dazzling fastball, 2-seamer, hard curve, slider, and change.

The campaign was good enough to earn him his first All-Star nod. His incredibly consistent season also placed him atop the leaderboards for Win-Loss Percentage, Wins, and Hits Per Nine Innings with marks of .792, 19, and 7.542, respectively.

Not too shabby, by any measure.

But Greinke’s 2009 was even better.

Sure, he started one less game and pitched nine less innings. Sure, his win-loss record of 16-8 pales in comparison to Hernandez’s 19-5.

But wins are slowly becoming an antiquated stat, one that will almost surely lose its significance one of these days (my guess being December 21, 2012). Simply put, pitchers don’t have much control over whether they win or lose. They can stack the deck in their favor by pitching well, but the statistic is almost completely reliant on potent offenses and capable late relief.

And Greinke played for the friggin’ Kansas City Royals; the fragile, anemic team with the 12th worst batting average among the 14 American League clubs, the team that slugged just 144 homeruns over the course of a 162-game season, good for 13th best in the same field.

But that’s not even the worst part. That dubious distinction would belong to the tremendously awful bullpen. In 2009, the Royal’s bullpen went 16-26 with an earned run average over 5.00. They let 45 percent of inherited runners score, 11 percent worse than the league average. Just one regular reliever, stud closer Joakim Soria, posted an ERA below 4.00.

In two starts where Greinke left the game without allowing a run, he got no-decisions. In two more starts in which he allowed just one run, he got a loss.

The team ended the season 32 games below .500.

Assumptions like this are almost always faulty and unfair, but it’s fair to proclaim that Greinke should have a markedly better record.

And let’s not forget that Greinke allowed 11 fewer runs than Hernandez in just one less start. And that he struck out 25 more batters in nine less innings.

Greinke’s season was part of history. Hernandez’s wasn’t.

Chances are that many of us have forgotten about this now, but his 6-0 record and 0.40 ERA through the season’s first six starts put him in the elite company of just two men: Walter “Big Train” Johnson and Fernando Valenzuela. Extend that through his first 10 starts and Greinke’s 0.84 ERA is a measure of dominance unseen since Juan Marichal’s historic run in 1966.

A Cy Young Award would be another notch in Greinke’s headboard.

And if he doesn’t win, well, watch out neighborhood: there’ll be hell to pay.

UPDATE: Everyone is safe.

Chicago’s Buehrle sets down 45 straight, adds newest feat to resume.

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Pie in his face.No one should be surprised that Chicago’s Mark Buehrle just a set a record for the most batters retired in a row, setting down 45 consecutive en route to breaking teammate Bobby Jenks and old-time Giant Jim Barr’s mark of 41.

It’s what he’s been doing for years, quietly toiling away in that droll, other franchise in Chicago.

For the past nine seasons, Buehrle has started at least 30 games and pitched at least 200 innings. And outside of his rookie campaign and a lackluster 2006, Buehrle’s earned run average has been well-below the league’s mean, only passing 4.00 twice. One member of Baseball Think Factory puts Buehrle’s career into simple terms:

Buehrle quote.

For a decade now, Buehrle’s been an Alpha version of an innings-eater, an uber-effective grinder that will never blow you away with a 100 mile per hour fastball or a slider that moves from the wrists to the ankles, but who, when dealing, is capable of pitching like Cy Young re-incarnate.

In 2007, he pitched a no-hitter against the Rangers. Last week, he threw a perfect game against the Rays. And during his nine full seasons, Buehrle’s finished among the top ten in ERA five times.

But still, that’s not the real story with Buehrle. Durability is his true m.o.

Buehrle’s finished in the top ten in innings pitched seven times, six times in games started, and five times in complete games.

Of those complete games, one-third of them have been shutouts. Over the last ten seasons, Buehrle’s tossed 8 complete games where he surrendered zero earned runs, leaving him in absolutely elite company.

Complete games leaders.

Buehrle’s recent coming out party, if you will, has led to speculation about his chances of making it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

And while I think the speculation might be premature, it’s hard to deny the strength of Buehrle’s resume. A 38th round draft pick by the White Sox, Buehrle has accomplished a lot in his young career (he’s just 30-years-old).

He has a World Series ring, which he won, while working as a starter and closer, with the Sox in 2005. He’s been selected to the All Star game four times, one of which he started and won. He’s led the American League in innings pitched twice. Now he’s set the record for most consecutive batters retired in a row at 45.

And with his no-hitter in 2005 and his perfect game in 2009, Buerhle becomes only the sixth player to throw a no-hitter and perfect game. The other five? Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, Addie Joss, and Cy Young.

They’re all Hall of Famers (or soon to be).

Will he be next? What do you think of his chances?

Rickey, Rice, and some other guy to be enshrined in the Hall today.

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We know all about Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.

But we don’t know anything about Joe Gordon.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that about only 25 percent of the baseball watching population has any idea that Joe Gordon is even being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame today. The MLB Network is promoting coverage of the ceremonies with absolutely no mention of him other than a blink-and-it’s-gone picture.

Joe Gordon, the most deserving 2009 Hall of Famer.And for Joe Gordon, that’s not fair.

Gordon played from 1938-50, seven seasons with the New York Yankees and four seasons with the Cleveland Indians. Gordon’s career is one of the most illustrious and formidable ever compiled by a second baseman.

In 1938, Gordon broke into the majors with the New York Yankees, clubbing 25 home runs and driving in 97 as 23-year-old.

For the next ten years, that was Gordon’s modus operandi.

From 1939-49, Gordon was named to every American League All-Star team. Outside of his 1946 and 1949 campaigns, he was a factor in the A.L. Most Valuable Player vote, actually winning the award in 1942. That season, Gordon edged out Boston’s Ted Williams when he batted .322, hit 18 home runs, drove in 103, and led the league in games played.

Gordon routinely paced the league in putouts, assists, and double plays. His fleet-feet and quick glove earned him the nickname “Flash,” after the popular comic book character of the same name.

Gordon was a part of five World Championship teams: the incredibly dominant ’38, ’39, ’41, and ’43 Yankees and the ’48 Indians, with which Gordon had, arguably, his best single-season campaign.

Gordon still holds the record for most career home runs by an American League second baseman.

And like so many stars of the time, we may never know exactly how good Gordon could have been; he spent the 1944 and 1945 seasons serving in World War II, his age 29 and 30 seasons.

With those prime seasons under his belt, Gordon would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer, without question.

In what is perhaps the biggest testament to Gordon’s ridiculously underrated career, it took endless lobbying from one of his contemporaries, Boston’s legendary Bobby Doerr, to get him into the Hall.

Doerr, who was elected to the Hall by the Veteran’s Committee 23 years ago, battled Gordon during the fierce Red Sox/Yankees rivalries of the forties. The two share close career statistics and were often a part of the same All-Star teams, which Gordon more often started on.

Doerr was bewildered by Gordon’s up-until-now exclusion from the Hall, stating recently, “I don’t understand why it took so long. I guess I was the only one on the committee who really knew Joe and got to see him play. They didn’t get to see him like I saw him, but he’s finally made it.”

Yes he has.

Trivia: Gordon was part of the only manager-for-manager trade in baseball history when the Indians sent him to the Tigers in exchange for Jimmy Dykes in 1960. That alone should occupy a special corner of the Hall.

At age 42, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield finally makes All-Star game.

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17 seasons, one All-Star selection.He’s oft-overlooked, but not anymore.

At age 42, Tim Wakefield is the second oldest player to make his All-Star debut, behind none other than the legendary Satchel Paige, who first appeared in the game at age 46.

As a Massachusetts native, I have had the pleasure of watching Wakefield pitch for the past 15 years. And I’ve always been blown away.

Sure, there’s days when he absolutely implodes, but such is the nature of the knuckleball and of baseball itself. More often than not, however, Wakefield’s more likely pitching a quality start and taking some of the stress off the bullpen. It’s comforting to know that when Wakefield takes the mound, you’re probably getting six to seven innings of solid, if unspectacular, baseball. If there was ever a time to mention “intangibles,” it would be now.

Written by dylansharek

July 6, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Enter Sandman for the 881st time.

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The New York Yankee’s Mariano Rivera will have a chance to make history tonight against the team’s crosstown rivals, the New York Mets.

Rivera is one save away from earning number 500. When he completes the feat, Rivera will be only the second member of the 500 Saves Club, behind the Brewer’s Trevor Hoffman. The 9-time All-Star and owner of a 2.31 career ERA has pitched two consecutive evenings, so there is some question whether manager Joe Girardi will trot him out tonight.

Mo' saves, mo' problems.

I’d look for him to come in, no matter what, and record the save in dominating fashion. He’s the best closer to ever play the game and I don’t see any reason why Girardi would hold him back. Rivera’s probably rearing to go.

Written by dylansharek

June 26, 2009 at 2:29 pm

A Pirate makes history. And no, that’s not a typo.

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Down here in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Shem Creek is flooding. It’s probably a sign of global warming and the oncoming apocalypse.

But that’s not the thing that’s scaring me tonight.

It’s the Pirate’s Andrew McCutchen. The 23-year-old leadoff hitter on baseball’s most putrid offense tied an MLB mark on Sunday when he hit a triple in his third consecutive game. He’s just the second rookie in the last 25 years to accomplish the feat (Baltimore’s Luke Scott did it in 2006).

He knows he's good.

McCutchen, who was called up in the beginning of June, was the Pirate’s top prospect for the past three years. They took their time bringing him up and, as of now, it looks like their patience paid off. He’s hitting .333 with 13 runs scored, 13 RBI, and two stolen bases. The triple he hit on Sunday was his fifth in just 78 at-bats.

It’s been a long time since the Pirate’s have had a talent like McCutchen.

So, lone Pittsburgh fan, get ready for him to be traded and mediocrity restored. McCutchen will go the way of Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, and Aramis Ramirez. All will be right in the world, the waters will recede at Shem Creek, and the baseball universe will breath a sigh of collective relief.

Written by dylansharek

June 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm