Sunday, November 30, 2014

Best relief pitching performances in World Series history

The 2014 baseball season ended with an incredible performance by Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a shutout in Game 5, then came back three days later to enter Game 7 in the middle of the 5th inning and pitched five shutout innings of relief to finish off the game and the series. A pair of singles were the only base runners Bumgarner allowed as he made himself an easy choice for World Series MVP. I've been busy with other things in the month since that game, but have been wondering about the other greatest relief appearances in World Series history. I couldn't recall anything like what Bumgarner did, but what had I forgotten about, and not been around to see when it happened?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Victor Martinez had a great season (especially for an old guy)

Victor Martinez was one of my favorite Cleveland Indians, both because of his fantastic play for the team and his tremendous presence in the clubhouse. I understood why he was traded away, but it was a drag seeing him play for Boston. Seeing him move on to Detroit wasn't any better, but I can't bring myself to root against him, even as it pains me to watch him routinely destroy the Tribe. (His 1.024 OPS against the Indians is easily his best versus any AL team.) Victor missed all of 2012 after having knee surgery, then posted his worst numbers in years in 2013. He turned 35 last offseason, and it made sense to think he'd entered the final stages of his time as a productive player. Instead though, Martinez had the best season of his career.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A look back at each Maddux of 2014

There were 12 Madduxes pitched in 2014. For the 27 seasons (1988-2014) we have pitch count data for, the average number has been 10.7, so this season was above average, especially when considering that the peak period for Madduxes was the late 80s and early 90s, while they've been less frequent during the last 20 years. This was the second year in a row to feature an even dozen of them, which hasn't happened in consecutive seasons since 1992 and 1993. We've really seen a resurgence to level not witnessed since years before I first created the Maddux in 1998.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Clayton Kershaw is Magic

Pitchers are putting up eye-popping numbers, the likes of which have rarely been seen during the last 20 years. Felix Hernandez has a 2.23 ERA. Only three AL pitchers have beaten that in the last two decades (Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, and Zack Greinke). This year though, he's behind Chris Sale. Yu Darvish has a K/9 rate of 11.35. The only other pitchers to beat that were Randy Johnson, Pedro, and Kerry Wood. Garrett Richards has a home run rate bested only by Greg Maddux in 1994 and Andy Pettitte in 1997. From 1993 to 2013, only four AL pitchers ever posted a FIP of 2.60 or better. In 2014, led by Corey Kluber's 2.43, five pitchers are below that mark. If (like me), great pitching is the baseball you love best, it's an incredible time. One guy tops them all though: Clayton Kershaw is the best.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The 13 Madduxes of Greg

I introduced the Maddux in one of the very first posts I wrote after starting this blog, having already spent almost 14 years searching for them, first in the box scores of the newspapers delivered to my family's home, and later at various online outlets (Baseball-Reference eventually made finding them easy, which was mostly incredible, but also a little sad, as it sort of ended the great hunt).

That original post has been seen by far more people than anything else I've written, due in large part to Jonah Keri and Craig Calcaterra, each of whom spread it to a far wider audience than I could have on my own. In the more than two years since then, I've written a number of other posts relating to the Maddux (many of which can be found through links in the original post).

One thing I haven't written about during are the 13 Madduxes thrown by Greg himself. He's being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend though, and this seems like as good a time as any to run through his personal collection.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hitting streaks against a single opponent: American League edition

Recently Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers had a 39-game hitting streak against the Cleveland Indians ended by an 0 for 4 night. I don't think a hitting streak against a single opponent is quite as impressive as a standard, "every day, no matter the opponent" hitting streak, but it's still pretty cool, made even cooler in Andrus' case, because the streak dated all the way back to his MLB debut on April 6, 2009, when he went 1 for 4 against the Indians. In more than five years to begin his career, Andrus had never played against Cleveland without collecting a hit.

His streak made me wonder about the longest single-opponent hitting streaks in baseball history.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

In the year of his 500th home run...

Earlier this season Albert Pujols became the 26th player in MLB history to hit his 500th career home run. Pujols' first two seasons with the Angels did not go especially well, as his offensive numbers were down in almost every category, and while a decline was to be expected, in 2013 that decline felt especially steep. I wondered if his time as a great player had come to an abrupt end. In 2014 though, Pujols' production has rebounded, not to the level of his incredible peak from 2003 to 2010, when he was one of the half dozen best players in baseball every season (those days are over), but to where he was in 2011 and 2012. His strong start had me wondering how each member of the 500-HR club did in the season in which they reached that level, so I set out to investigate.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Henderson Alvarez has become a Maddux icon

Henderson Alvarez, a right-handed pitcher for the Marlins is becoming quite a sensation within the world of the Maddux. On Saturday night in Miami, Alvarez (who just turned 24 on Friday) pitched the first Maddux of 2014, shutting out Seattle on just 90 pitches, while allowing only 2 hits and issuing 0 walks. It was the third Maddux of Alvarez's career already, which puts him in select company, especially given his age. Youth wasn't the only factor that made this particular Maddux so notable though, and I don't think any other active pitcher could have generated as many interesting tidbits of Maddux trivia as Alvarez just did.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Maddux on Opening Day

There have been only two Madduxes* thrown on Opening Day, each of them thrown by a pitcher who went on to have a great season, each of them thrown by a pitcher who now has at least one Cy Young Award in his trophy case (well, I guess their awards might not actually be in a trophy case, they could be on a mantle somewhere, or perhaps one of them is being used to prop a door open). One was thrown in the American League, the other in the National, but they were both thrown in southern California.

MLB 2014 Predictions

Another baseball season is upon us, bringing with it 162 more chances for each of us to live and die a little with our team, and another chance for me to show off my infinite wisdom by making predictions that stand little chance of proving correct.

I haven't had the right World Series winner since 2009, which is bad news for the team I'm picking this year.