December 12, 2013
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Yankees 6, Twins 3: Six shutout innings for Andy Pettitte. After all these years. After a retirement. After an injury that cost him the bulk of the season. Andy Pettitte is still critical to the Yankees after all of these years.
Orioles 4, Blue Jays 1; Blue Jays 9, Orioles 5: The split costs Baltimore a half game to New York. The O's are two back in the loss column. Adam Jones went 4 for 4 with a homer and two RBI in the opener. J.P. Arencibia hit a grand slam in the night cap. This is the first time the Yankees and O's are separated by more than a game since Sept. 2.
White Sox 5, Indians 4: Two homers for Adam Dunn, the second of which was a three-run homer in the eighth, to help the Chisox break a five-game losing streak.
Tigers 6, Royals 2: And whaddaya know? Both AL Central contenders won. How novel. Justin Verlander allowed two runs over eight despite hurting his non-throwing shoulder -- get this -- catching the ball as it was being thrown back by the catcher. There's something to the idea that geniuses are people who make the hard stuff easy and the easy stuff hard.
Mets 6, Pirates 2: Say what you want about the Mets season, but they're trying to end it strong. Four straight wins for New York, this one powered by two Ike Davis bombs. As for the Pirates? Here's their second half schedule and results. I haven't seen that much red on a board since the show "Homicide" went off the air.
Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Tyler Chatwood wins and goes to 5-5. Trevor Cahill loses and goes to 12-12. There's something so very satisfyingly symmetrical about that. I mean, apart from the fact that if you interchangeably used the aliases "Tyler Chatwood" and "Trevor Cahill," no one would ever notice.
Cardinals 6, Astros 1: Lance Lynn wins his 17th and the Cards win their seventh of eight. St. Louis has a three and a half game lead for the second wild card.
Nationals 12, Brewers 2: A six-run fourth inning for Washington when the sun caused Carlos Gomez to misplay a two-out fly ball. The day before the Nats had trouble with balls in the air in the midday glare. Here's hoping that MLB doesn't solve the Nationals' public transportation problem by giving them NLDS games in the middle of the afternoon.
Rangers 5, Athletics 4: Josh Hamilton came back and hit a homer. Wouldn't it be neat if he ekes out the home run crown in the AL, denying Miguel Cabrera the MVP? Like he denied Cabrera the MVP in 2010? No, you don't think that would be neat, Tigers fans?
I've been reading Bill Chuck's Billy-Ball.com for years, and he and I exchange e-mails about his posts from time to time. On Monday, Bill had a post that caught my eye for an odd reason, and I felt obliged to comment.
Bill was citing the number of players with 20-plus stolen bases thus far in the 2012 season. Having just watched Sunday night's Dodgers-Reds tilt that included Dee Gordon throwing balls everywhere except to the first baseman's glove, Gordon was on my mind. (I have Gordon on a fantasy team, too, so I've been following him and his one-category contributions all season long.)
I couldn't help but notice that the speedy Gordon wasn't listed among those with at least 20 swipes, so I mentioned this to Bill. He responded that he had done a search at Baseball-Reference.com, and we all know the power and wonder that is B-Ref, so the lack of Gordon on the list was surprising.
I could think of only one explanation for this omission, which I shared with Bill: "Maybe B-Ref looks at his overall game, realizes he does NOTHING good except stealing bases and makes the value judgment to disregard him as a baseball player. It doesn't sound logical, but it's the best reason I can think of."
Bill found the glitch and re-posted the list, but I couldn't stop thinking about Gordon and his future. With the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers found a shortstop for the remainder of 2012. However, 2013 could be a different story, with Ramirez possibly shifting to third base once again and opening up short for Gordon.
The question is, can Gordon do enough to justify the starting role? Yes, he has terrific speed. In about one-third of a season last year, Gordon swiped 24 bags, and this year he has pilfered 31 bases in about a half-season of games. But what else does he bring to the table?
Last year, he raised expectations with a .304 batting average in 224 at-bats. Sure, his slugging percentage was an unimpressive .362, as was his .325 on-base percentage, but if Gordon could hit .300, he would at least appear to be providing value. This season? How about a .228/.281/.281 triple-slash line? Gordon's stick has gone flaccid.
Defense? Well, if you watched Sunday's performance, you got a glimpse of why people question whether Gordon can remain a shortstop.
So you have a weak-hitting, poor-fielding speedster. The mid-1970s Oakland A's took a player like this, Herb Washington, and made him a pinch-runner. Incredibly, Washington appeared in 92 games in 1974 but had zero (yes, zero!) plate appearances. (He returned in 1975 for a mere 13 games, also without ever standing at the dish.)
Dee Gordon is almost certainly a better player than Herb Washington, but he needs to make some significant improvements at the plate and in the field if he wants to stick in the big leagues for any length of time.
Last week, the Rockies finally achieved a team milestone. On Sept. 18, starting pitcher Jeff Francis threw five innings in his outing, giving him exactly 100 innings pitched on the season.
Incredibly, he was the first hurler on the Rockies staff to reach 100 frames. It took the team 147 games, but it finally, belatedly had someone in triple digits.
All other teams this year already had a guy top 100 innings, and most had done it long ago. A question arises: what is the fewest innings ever pitched by a squad’s top workhorse in a full season? Do the Rockies have a chance at the unwanted record?
Oh, hell yes, they have a chance at the record. Actually, they have it pretty much locked down. The current record holder for fewest innings pitched for a team’s top innings eater in a full season is the 1997 A’s. Swingman Don Wengert threw 134 innings for them. It’s tough to imagine Francis or any other Rockie getting that far. Actually, that A’s team had two other pitchers over 125 innings, a summit no 2012 Rockie will climb.
In fact, things might be even worse than that for this year’s Rockies. The 1997 A’s are the full-season record holder, but what happens if we look at teams with partial seasons?
Well, if you go back to 1884, you have some contenders. The 1884 Milwaukee squad from the American Association had a top workhorse who threw 102 innings. Francis should get there. Then again, that 1884 Milwaukee squad played just 36 games, as it was only there for a fraction of that year’s AA season.
Excluding 1884, the record low is 130.1 innings by Glenn Abbott on the 1981 Mariners. Those Mariners played just 110 games, but they still had a guy throw more innings than anyone on the 2012 Rockies will. The same can be said for all the other 1981 or 1994 teams in those strike-shortened years.
So the 2012 Rockies will have the dubious distinction of the fewest innings ever thrown by their best workhorse among all teams since 1900 (or, if you’d rather, among all teams that played at least 40 games).
It’s a type of history to make, though not the sort of history any team wants to make.