Monday, May 18, 2015
Saturday, May 16, 2015
In his most recent start Felix Hernandez recorded his 2,000th career strikeout. He became the 73rd pitcher to reach that mark, which means that on its own it is an accomplishment, but not especially rare. What makes Hernandez's case special is that he's reached 2,000 strikeouts and is still only 29 years old. In baseball history, only eight pitchers have reached this particular milestone before their 30th birthday. Felix is keeping very impressive company, as six of the other seven members of the group are inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (The seventh member saw his ride to Cooperstown derailed by wildness and drinking.)
Thursday, April 30, 2015
April baseball concludes tonight. Among the notable accomplishments from the month are the 10 home runs apiece hit by Nelson Cruz of the Mariners and Hanley Ramirez of the Red Sox. How many players have ever tallied 10 home runs by the end of April? Cruz and Ramirez make for a total of 42 players, a group that's managed the accomplishment a total of 53 times.
What I'm really wondering about this evening is what kind of home run totals those players went on to put up in those 53 seasons. What does history say about Cruz and Ramirez's chances of reaching 30, 40, or 50 home runs?
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Strikeouts are at an all-time high. In fact, they have been at an all-time high since 2008, with the height of that high continually getting higher and higher. In 2008 there were a record 6.83 strikeouts per 9 innings across MLB. That record has fallen each year, with the figure climbing all the way to 7.73 last season. Recent seasons have included huge strikeout rates for many different starting pitchers (which could be its own post), though in terms of raw counting, the lower number of innings starters now throw each year has kept anyone from posting an historic total.
For hitters it has been a different story. Until 2004 no one had ever struck out more than 189 times in a season, but in eleven season since then it has happened 17 times, with the record climbing all the way to 223, done by Mark Reynolds in 2009. Despite that though, no one has been able to reach the career total of the straw who stirred the drink, Reggie Jackson.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
This week Johan Santana signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, a deal that includes an invitation to spring training. It is not uncommon for players who haven't thrown an inning in MLB for more than two years to have to settle for such a contract. What is uncommon is seeing someone who used to be the best pitcher in all of baseball sign a deal like that. Santana won the 2004 and 2006 American League Cy Young Awards; he deserved to win in 2005 too, and in 2006 he also probably should have been given the AL MVP. He was tremendous. Shoulder trouble knocked Santana out near the end of the 2010 season, and in the four seasons since then he has pitched in just 21 games (all in 2012).
Whether he makes it back or not, Johan was, as I said already, the absolute best pitcher in baseball for a time. How many men can say that for themselves? I decided to find out how held that spot in my time as a fan, which dates back to 1986.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
|Bobby Doerr, the oldest living Hall of Fame player|
Ernie Banks passed away Friday night here in Chicago. Since I was old enough to think about such things, I've always considered him the face of Chicago baseball, and so while I am not a Cubs fan and never saw Banks play, I was saddened to hear of his death, both as a Chicagoan, and as a baseball fan. Banks was 83 old though, and he was able to enjoy being a Hall of Famer for more than 37 years. I found myself wondering: How many Hall of Fame players his age are still with us? How many Hall of Fame players lived for so many years after their induction?
Monday, January 26, 2015
I saw 43 movies from 2014. I know that's many more than most people see, but it's my lowest total since I began keeping track in 1997, when what I still consider my closest group of friends took form and we started going to a movie most weekends. Of the 43 movies I saw last year, only 26 of them were actually in a theater, which is an even more dramatic departure from most of my last two decades. Part of me is bummed that I'm not seeing as many movies as I used to, but in truth, most of what I'm not seeing anymore isn't very good, because I used to go to a lot of pretty crap movies with my friends. I miss not having more time to spend with my friends anymore, but I probably need not mourn the specific movies I'm missing out on.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
I'm not sure how old I was when I first knew about the Baseball Hall of Fame. I do recall receiving a set of baseball cards when I was young, all of which had black-and-white photos on the front, most showing players I'd never heard of. Babe Ruth was there though, and Ty Cobb and Lou Gehrig. I know who they were, and grasped that the others must have been great too. I certainly knew about the Hall by 1990, the year I turned ten. That's when Jim Palmer and Joe Morgan were inducted. It's been just shy of a quarter century since those two were elected, and I find myself thinking back on which of the players from that time I expected to someday enter Cooperstown.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
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?