Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 6, 2021.

Vogelbach hit just .208 in his All-Star 2019 campaign. (Wikipedia).

Dan is Vogel-back: Big Daniel Vogelbach never quite established himself at the major league level, despite hitting 30 home runs with Seattle in 2019 and making the All-Star squad that year. Now in a reserve role with Milwaukee, the slugger returned with a bang after missing all of July and August due to injury—in just his fourth game back, he clobbered a pinch hit, walk-off grand slam off Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes last night.

The new Kemp: He’s no Matt, yet, but Athletics outfielder Tony Kemp is getting there. Over the past month, he’s hit a solid .291 with a .371 on-base percentage, adding 3 doubles and a couple home runs for good measure. It’s been an up-and-down year for the former 5th round draft pick, who began the campaign with a .208 mark through mid-May, then was into the .290s by late June, and is down to .259 now.

Better than nothing: When you’re the 45-93 Diamondbacks, you have to take what you can get—and hurler Taylor Widener is worth taking. Since August 7, the righthander has a 2.57 ERA with 22 Ks and just 13 hits allowed in 21 innings. Not one to go deep into games, he pitched exactly 5 innings four starts in a row, from August 7 to August 27.

Salvador’s *this* close: After another dinger last night, Royals catcher Salvador Perez now sits at 41 on the season and is just two away from tying the season record for most dingers by a catcher with 43. He is firing on all cylinders right now, hitting .353 with 6 home runs and 16 RBI since August 27.

Every time you get your hopes up: Sunday, September 5: the Mets wallop the Nationals, 13-6; Javier Baez goes 4-for-4, Kevin Pillar smacks a grand slam, life is good. Monday, September 6: Mets face Nats starter Patrick Corbin, owner of a 6.26 ERA and 33 home runs surrendered this year. Mets are leading, closer Edwin Diaz blows the save, Mets lose 4-3. That’s the essence of being a Mets fan.

When he was with the Mets, J.J. was such a … well, you know. (Wikipedia).

This is also how the Mets do: J.J. Putz’s career ERA before joining New York: 3.07. His ERA with New York: 5.22. His ERA after leaving New York: 2.81.

No love for Durham: Jacque Jones and Armando Benitez both earned a vote for the Hall of Fame in 2014, but not Ray Durham. He had 2,000-plus hits, 1,249 runs scored, two All-Star selections and excellent power-speed skills (his 225.4 power-speed number is 69th all-time). The BBWAA writers are a mystery.

Naval Academy representation: For nearly a century, the only man from the United States Naval Academy to play major league baseball was pitcher Nemo Gaines, who spent four games with the Washington Senators in 1921. In 2015, two alumni joined the ranks, with pitcher Mitch Harris spending a season with St. Louis and hurler Oliver Drake debuting with Baltimore. Drake, though injured, is still playing.

Besting a Hall of Famer: Fifteen-year major league veteran Jose Hernandez won’t oft be mentioned in the same breath as any Hall of Famers, however he did break one Cooperstowner’s record: In the 1997-98 Puerto Rican League (now known as the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League), he clobbered 20 dingers, breaking the league’s single-season mark for most home runs by a native Puerto Rican. It was previously held by Orlando Cepeda.

Props to Bob: Bob Thurman, who played for the Reds from 1955 to 1959, holds the Puerto Rican League’s career home run record with 120.

Pete Rose, the prequel: The top 24 vote-getters in the initial Hall of Fame election in 1936 have been inducted into Cooperstown—and so have numbers 26 and 27. Former Yankees first baseman Hal Chase, who spent 15 years in the big leagues, finished 25th in the balloting with 4.9 percent of the vote and has yet to be enshrined. But it makes sense—he was de facto banned from baseball for gambling and such shenanigans.

Another olde stadium: Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field are major league baseball’s two oldest stadiums, opening in 1912 and 1914, respectively. But which is number three? Dodger Stadium is now a geriatric 59 years old, having opened in 1962.

Speed demons: Among those who debuted 1900 or after, the only players who were primarily pitchers with 20 or more career steals are Christy Mathewson, Chief Bender, Jack Coombs, Ray Caldwell, Johnny Lush and Doc White.

Who really discovered Mantle? Yankees scout Tom Greenwade is credited with signing the legendary Mickey Mantle, but Johnny Sturm, who played for the club in 1941, actually discovered the slugger. While managing the minor league Joplin Miners in the late ‘40s, he witnessed the young Mantle playing for a local semi-pro team and gave him a tryout. At his instigation, the Yankees sent area scout Greenwade to check the ballplayer out and, well, the rest, they say, is history.

Lou Gehrig was a decent ballplayer. (Wikipedia).

Is there anything Lou couldn’t do? The only player with five seasons of 400-plus total bases is Lou Gehrig, who led the league four times in that category and finished with 5,060 for his career. That’s 20th-best all-time.

Good at hitting home runs, not driving runs home: The player with the fewest RBI in a season with 20 or more home runs is catcher Chris Hoiles, who clocked 20 dingers and had just 40 RBI for Baltimore in 1992. A couple seasons earlier in 1990, the Yankees’ Kevin Maas had 21 home runs and 41 RBI and as recently as 2016, the Yanks’ Gary Sanchez clobbered 20 homers with 42 RBI. Thus far in 2021, the Giants’ Brandon Belt has 21 home runs and just 42 RBI.

The value of forums and message boards: It seems a majority of online baseball discussion has meandered to websites like Reddit and Twitter, but there is still great value in forums like Baseball-Fever.com. Social media and such frivolities is too-in-the-moment; after a day or two, posts, thoughts and discussions are shoved down the memory hole, never to be seen again. With forums, you can track discussions and watch as they develop. There is more permanence to them.

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