Currently historic: Rick Ankiel and Dave Duncan form a new connectionby Jason Linden
May 30, 2013
I learned something important from the comments last week, and it is this: If I ever make a mistake again, I will pretend it is a trade rumor. Henceforth, there shall be no mistakes in this column. Only rumors.
This week, I think it is appropriate to start our discussion with the two best hitters in baseball. I speak, of course, of Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto. I've been reading a lot of "Who is the best hitter?" stuff lately, and I think it's an interesting debate.
Miguel Cabrera's career wOBA is .404. Votto's is slightly higher at .415. Of course, Cabrera got an earlier start and it's really his first seasons that drag him down. If you go from 2010, he leads Votto .432 to .427. Since the beginning of last season, it's Votto again, .438 to .429.
I don't know who the best hitter is. I'm pretty sure Votto is the better player because he seems to contribute more on the defensive side, but in terms of ability with the bat, I don't think you can call a winner.
Speaking of these two fine hitters, let's see how they're doing this week.
Votto, you may remember, was on pace to reach base 350 times, something that has happened only five times since 1900. Votto has slipped just a bit and is currently on pace to reach base 348 times. Still worth tracking.
Chris Jaffe also pointed out this week that Votto was trying to become the fifth modern player to lead the league in walks and hits. He's still leading the league in walks, but is now second in hits. Once again, this is still worth tracking.
Cabrera, of course, is trying to win the triple crown for the second year in a row. He currently leads in average and RBI, but is second in homers to Chris Davis. Interestingly, Davis is holding Cabrera back from what I like to call the Sabr-Triple Crown. Cabrera is currently the league leader in average and OBP, but is second in slugging. Chris Davis has a .494 career slugging percentage and is a fine player. I'm not, however, betting on him to continue this torrid pace.
Yu Darvish stayed on precisely the same pace and, through 11 starts, his 105 strikeouts put him on pace to finish with 315. Basically, he has to do what he's already done this year two more times. He is really, really good and is starting look like a fair bet to be the first pitcher in 11 years to fan 300.
Bartolo Colon got back on track and walked no one this week. His current rate of .567 per nine innings isn't where it needs to be, but he's heading in the right direction, so we'll keep him around for one more week—at least.
Strikeout tracking, week 4...
Chris Carter, 75 Ks, 229 K pace: Carter's pace slowed a little bit, but he's still on a record-breaking track. Interestingly, Carter currently has 156 games played and 580 plate appearances in his career. In that near-full-season of work he has 199 strikeouts.
Rickie Weeks 55 Ks, 181 K pace: He's slipping. I'll still track him, but he's always felt like a bit of a long shot to me.
Adam Dunn, 69 Ks, 224 K pace: Suddenly, Carter has some real competition. The difference here is that Carter has actually been a solid hitter and Adam Dunn has been terrible. I'm starting to wonder if he'll ever get the chance to break Reggie Jackson's all-time record. he still has 500 Ks to go. That would require him to play full time through most of 2015.
Rick Ankiel, 50 Ks, 153 K pace. Ankiel is currently striking out 46 percent of the time. Among players with 100 plate appearances (Ankiel has 108 as I write this), that is, surprisingly, common.
Ankiel would be the 23rd player to accomplish such a feat. However, 100 PAs seems to be the line. There is a reason for that, all the other players on the list are pitchers. Well, almost. The only exception is is Dave Duncan (yes, the pitching coach), who caught 34 games for the A's in 1967 and struck out 47 percent of the time. So, with every plate appearance for as long as he keeps up this strikeout rate, Rick Ankiel is doing something we have never seen a position player do before.
The Astros and Braves are still on track to break the team strikeout record of 1,387. The current Astro pace is 1,557. The current Braves' pace is 1483. Several other teams are also in the neighborhood and could get themselves featured here if they closed their eyes and swung hard just a little more often.
The weekly list grew last week. This week, it shrinks...
Oh man, Todd Helton. Still, nothing? Still. One double. One. That's all you need. Get into the top-20 so we can call off this charade. You know we loved you once, but it's time to walk out that door. It will hurt a little maybe, but it's what's best for all of us. (A note to commenters last week, I'd think about tracking Todd Helton's pursuit of 2,500 hits if he were still, you know, any good at all. If he picks it up, I'll change my tune).
Adrian Beltre, on the other hand, you sir, are doing a fine job. You are a doubles machine and now need only 23 more to reach 500. Keep it up, young man, keep it up.
David Ortiz moved himself along a little bit as well. He now needs just seven more to reach 500.
Albert Pujols needs 17 to reach 500 and 30 to get into the top-20. I'm dropping the top-20 tracker. This is not the Albert Pujols we all know and he's not hitting 30 more homers this year.
Prince Fielder didn't homer this week, and it's probably time to stop tracking him as well. he hasn't his 40 homers since 2009, and it sure doesn't look like it's happening this year. He would need to finish with exactly 40 for the season to reach 300.
Torii Hunter, on the other hand, is keepin' on. He now has 299 homers.
Runs Batted in:
Albert Pujols now needs 35 to reach 1,500. This still seems a safe bet.
Juan Pierre did not steal any bases this week and still has 604. However, he was caught once. And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes him the sixth man ever to be caught 200 times. Congratulation, or something, Mr. Pierre.
Michael Bourn stole three this week and needs 16 to reach 300.
Mariano Rivera (1,072) has lept into fourth place all time in games played for pitchers. He needs 47 more to catch John Franco for third. A long shot, but not impossible. we'll keep an eye out.
Andy Pettitte (498) is in a brief holding pattern. However, CC Sabathia (394) and Bartolo Colon (385) continue to pitch every five days or so.
CC Sabathia is still hanging out at 195.
Jonathan Papelbon needs 33 to get to 300.
11 more strikeouts will put Ryan Dempster at 2,000. That could be next week.
Andy Pettitte is still two walks away from 1,000, of course.
Pittsburgh won six games since we last checked on them and now needs only seven to reach 10,000. Not next week, but the week after, almost for certain.
Jason has too many irons in the fire. He fancies himself a fiction writer and also writes about the Reds at Redleg Nation, books at Elephants for Bookends, and everything else at The Winesburg Eagle. Email him at winesburgeagle *at* gmail or follow him on Twitter @jasonlinden
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