Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 4, 2021.

Miguel Cabrera 3,000 hit watch: Last night, Miguel Cabrera recorded one hit, bringing him to 2,964 for his career and 36 away from 3,000. The Tigers have 26 games left to play.

Cruz has made 7 All-Star teams and won 4 Silver Sluggers in 17 seasons. (Wikipedia).

Not hopeful about Cruz: 41-year-old Nelson Cruz has 26 home runs on the year and 443 for his career. He’s a slugger and could feasibly reach 500 one day, but his performance with Tampa Bay casts doubt on those prospects. Since joining the club in July, he’s batting just .205 with a 90 OPS+. If his hitting doesn’t recover, I can’t imagine a team signing him next year, putting his run at history in jeopardy.

Going gone Garneau: Backup catcher Dustin Garneau doesn’t have much of a bat and his power has always been lackluster. In 400 ABs over 7 seasons, he has just 12 home runs … and 3 of them came in the past week. Last night, the Tigers backstop had 2 hits—both dingers— and added 3 RBI against Cincinnati; in his previous game, his lone hit was also a home run. Since August 22, he is hitting .333 with a .944 slugging mark.

He’s a winner: Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes was batting .183 through August 1, but has really turned it on over the past month or so. In his last 64 at-bats, the 26-year-old has 23 hits for a .359 average. Of his knocks, 4 were doubles, 3 were triples and 2 were dingers.

Hoffman coming around: Though he had a rough outing against Detroit last night (1 2/3 IP, 4 ER), Reds pitcher Jeff Hoffman still holds a 3.24 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 16 2/3 frames over the past month. He began the year well through April, but saw his ERA rise to 5.20 by July 21. His mark is 2.75 since.

Pumped for Payamps: Royals reliever Joel Payamps hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past four appearances, continuing a streak of excellent pitching that extends back to June 14. Since then, his ERA is just 1.54 in 10 appearances (he didn’t play at all in July). His ERA on the year is 2.68 in 29 appearances.

Broxton has 396 strikeouts in 905 at-bats. (Wikipedia).

Brewers scraping the bottom: The Brewers recently signed outfielder Keon Broxton and pitcher Zach Lee to minor league contracts. Broxton hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2019, when he had a .167 average in 100 games between the Mets, Orioles and Mariners. Lee last played in 2017; he has an 8.53 ERA in 12 2/3 big league innings.

And he never even led the league: Who had the most saves in the majors from 2007 to 2011? Not Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez or Jonathan Papelbon. Not even quirky player du jour Brian Wilson. It was Francisco Cordero, with 194. Number two on the list is also surprising: Jose Valverde had 191.

Not much from the land down under: Australia has produced some great relief pitchers, like Grant Balfour, Liam Hendriks and Peter Moylan. But starters … not so much. Perhaps the best was Damian Moss, who spent four years in the majors from 2001 to 2004, going 22-19 with a 4.50 ERA for four teams. His 2002 campaign was solid, as he went 12-6 with a 3.42 mark for Atlanta, finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year balloting.

Hope grows daily: With the Mets riding a seven-game winning streak, the club is now back over .500 and just 3.5 games out in the division. Their magic number is down to 32. Starting catcher James McCann—disappointment that he’s been—is off the injured list. In 1973, the Mets were 65-73 on September 4, and they made the World Series …

Perhaps I spoke too soon: Well, I wrote that before this afternoon’s game. The Mets were up 9-0, just to blow the lead against Washington with abominable fielding and poor pitching. They ended up winning, 11-9, but such performances are not becoming of a playoff team.

Lots of Mets born today: Mothers must love conceiving future Mets on September 4. Luis Lopez, Joe DePastino, Andres Gimenez, Chris Beck and—most notably—Mike Piazza, New Yorkers all, were born on this day.

Star in his own mind: Pitcher Mark Redman was an All-Star in 2006, despite going 11-10 with a 5.71 ERA on the year—but he might not be the worst selection ever. Frankie Zak, a backup shortstop, had just 160 at-bats in 87 games for Pittsburgh in 1944 … yet made the All-Star team. Shortstop Eddie Miller was originally chosen to play but was injured; because World War II travel restrictions made it difficult to bring another player in on short notice, Zak was given the nod since he was in town. The Midsummer Classic was held in Pittsburgh that year.  

.217 average; twice an MVP: Cliff Brumbaugh had a .217 batting average in his brief MLB career, spent between the Rangers and Rockies in 2001. Back before he became a historical footnote, however, he did something pretty historical: In 1995, while at the University of Delaware, he hit .442 with 32 doubles and 68 runs scored to earn Player of the Year honors. The Rangers then drafted him and placed him at Single-A Hudson Valley, with whom he batted .358 with 101 hits in 74 games to win the New York-Pennsylvania League MVP.

Brumbaugh could hit: Though his big league career fizzled, Cliff Brumbaugh was an excellent hitter … in Japan and Korea. He hit .343 with 33 home runs for the Hyundai Unicorns of the Korea Baseball Organization in 2004, then had two more years of 25-plus dingers across the (other) pond, to boot. In his final pro campaign, back in North America with the independent Edmonton Capitals, he hit .383 with 23 homers and 90 RBI in 74 games. He finished with 1,978 hits and 279 dingers in his 16-year professional career.

Malarcher played from 1916 to 1934. (Wikipedia).

A change in careers: Before Randy “Macho Man” Savage became a world-famous wrestler, he was a professional baseball player. Then known as Randy Poffo, he played in the minor leagues from 1971 to 1974 and wasn’t awful, posting an average as high as .286 in 1971. But it looks like he made the right career decision.

Malarcher wasn’t nervous: Dave Malarcher, a Negro league manager who headed the Chicago American Giants from 1926 to 1934 (save for 1930), took the helm under unusual circumstances. Future Hall of Famer Rube Foster previously led the club, but suffered a nervous breakdown partway through the year. Malarcher took over, guiding them to a 30-7 record under his tutelage and a 57-23 finish overall.

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