Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My hypothetical 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

There are at least a dozen players on this year's Hall of Fame ballot whom I'd vote for if I could. The largest obstacle to this is that I'm not a member of the BBWAA, so I don't have even one day of membership there, much less the ten years needed in order to be allowed to vote. Even if had been a member for at least a decade and could vote, I still wouldn't be able to vote for the 12-15 guys I think deserve it, because there's a ten-player limit, which is arbitrary and idiotic, but apparently not going anywhere. Unable to vote for every candidate I want to, I'd have to decide how to make the best use of my ten spots.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Which MLB teams have a pitcher as the best player in franchise history?

Earlier this year a friend asked me to consider how many MLB teams have a pitcher as the greatest player in franchise history, because there don't seem to be many. Off the cuff, I came up with only four teams: The Mets (Tom Seaver), Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson), Indians (Bob Feller), and Twins (Walter Johnson, so long as we're counting the team's time as the Washington Senators). That conversation slipped my mind until a couple days ago, but today I thought I'd actually take a look at the numbers, in order to see if my thinking that day matches.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Chase Utley's dirty slide and MLB's rules are both to blame

During the 7th inning of Saturday night's Game 2 of the NLDS between the Dodgers and Mets, with New York ahead 2-1, one out, and runners on first and third, Chase Utley of the Dodgers went hard into... well, not into second base, but into the area behind and to the right of second base with a hard takeout slide of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. Utley wanted to make sure no double play would be turned, so that the tying run would score. Tejada's right fibula was broken, and while medical personnel attended to him, Los Angeles challenged the play. Utley was called safe, and two batters later (when the inning would already have been over if Utley had been called out), the Dodgers took the lead, a lead they held onto, tying the best-of-five series at a game apiece. Debate broke out immediately about the slide, and about whose fault the play was, Utley's or MLB's. It seems pretty obvious to me this isn't an either/or situation; both sides are clearly to blame.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The worst seasons to feature a Maddux

Jeff Samardzija pitched a Maddux earlier this week, needing only 88 pitches to complete the shutout. That's the fewest pitches used in any of this season's eight Madduxes, and one of only 39 Madduxes accomplished on 88 pitches or fewer since MLB began fully tracking pitch counts in 1988. While the especially low number of pitches needed make the accomplishment all the more impressive, what really stood out to me about it is that Samardzija was in the midst of a really bad season, and a horrific second half. I found myself wondering: Which pitchers have thrown a Maddux while having the worst season?

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Toronto Blue Jays outscored other teams by a historic level in 2015

The Toronto Blue Jays have by far the best offense in baseball this season. This can be seen by looking at their MLB-best .340 OBP or their MLB-best .457 SLG. Getting on base and collecting extra-base hits are excellent ways of scoring, but I want to look at actual runs, if only because this Toronto team has been especially good at that in 2015. The Blue Jays scored 891 runs this season. Compared to a team like the 1999 Indians, who scored 1,009 runs, 891 doesn't look impressive, but boy is it ever.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hitting for the cycle in your career as an All-Star

No player has ever hit for the cycle in an All-Star Game*, and no player ever will. What makes me so confident? Well, since the 15-inning ASG in 2008, only one player (Mike Trout this year) has even gotten four plate appearances, and it's awfully hard to hit for the cycle without getting four plate appearances. Mike Trout's home run to lead off the game gave him a the cycle for his career as an All-Star though, and even that's an awfully impressive accomplishment, one I of course found myself wondering about, wondering which others baseball greats had done. it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The last active MLB players from the 1900s

The 1990s were the most formative decade of my life, and it doesn't feel as though they were that long ago. Looking around baseball though, it's clear more time has passed since then than I would like to think. You can't quite count all the players from that decade who are still active in MLB on your fingers, but if you add one of your feet to the mix, you'll have more than enough digits. Only 15 players from that time played in at least one MLB game in 2015. Who are they? What chance does each of them have of becoming the last active player from the group? Do they have a tontine, with the last surviving member receiving the Hellfish Bonanza? (Oh how I hope they do.)

When will the last of them finally call it quits, closing the book on the 90s, and on 1900s as well? Let's look and see...

Friday, June 12, 2015

Teammates with Madduxes in the same season

John Smoltz is eating that baseball out of frustration over not
having thrown a Maddux in 1993, like his teammates did.
Just a bit earlier this season, on May 25 and June 3, Blue Jays teammates Drew Hutchison and Mark Buehrle each pitched a Maddux. Follow Buehrle's performance, a Toronto fan with the Twitter handle James G asked me what the shortest span between two Madduxes for one team is. I knew that Zane Smith and Maddux himself had each thrown Madduxes in back-to-back starts, with Smith's five days apart and Greg's six days apart. That meant the nine-day span for Hutchison and Buehrle wasn't the record. Two teammates each throwing a Maddux is different than one guy throwing two of them though, so I set out to find out which teammates had each thrown one in the shortest span.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pitchers with multiple Madduxes in the same season

Shelby Miller was traded to the Braves by the Cardinals this offseason, because St. Louis apparently has so much pitching that they felt they didn't need a 24-year-old only one year removed from finishing 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting. A month and a half into the season, it looks like Atlanta got a real steal, as Miller leads the NL with a 1.33 ERA and a 0.833 WHIP. Miller hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his eight starts this year, but it's what he's done in the last two weeks that really caught my attention. On May 5 Miller pitched the first Maddux of 2015. Yesterday (May 17), Miller did it again. What's drawn attention is the fact that he was one out away from a no-hitter, but two Madduxes in three starts is accomplishment enough.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Youngest pitchers to reach 2,000 strikeouts

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 seven retired members of the group are inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (McDowell saw his ride to Cooperstown derailed by wildness and drinking.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hitting 10+ home runs by the end of April... Where does it take you?

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

Tracking the career strikeout record throughout history

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

The pitchers who've been baseball's best since I became a fan

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

Oldest living and longest tenured Hall of Famers

Bobby Doerr, who lived longer than any other HOF 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, and he was able to enjoy being a Hall of Famer for close to 38 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

My favorite movies of 2014

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.