Here’s a late-night edition of my random thoughts and musings.
Hope for Miguel after all? I recently wrote that, because he was trending in the wrong direction, the Tigers Miguel Cabrera would have to wait until 2022 to reach 3,000 hits. Well, there goes baseball’s unpredictability again: On Tuesday, he went 3-for-4 with a double, then Wednesday, he was 4-for-4 with 3 RBI. Never say never—Cabrera now stands 29 hits away from 3,000 with 21 games left in the season.
Anthony’s alright: Former top prospect Anthony Alford has been a perpetual letdown, batting .180 for his career and .192 this season. Over the past week, he’s given fans a little something to cheer about, however, with 3 of his 5 hits going for home runs; still, he’s batting just .238 in that stretch.
A hidden gem: I’m always on the lookout for players who don’t make the headlines, but who might be hidden gems. The Rangers’ Jason Martin fits the bill. Over the past month, he’s hit .270 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI, while slugging .460. That’s a far cry from the .143 hitter he was before this run.
K inflation strikes again: There once was a time when only elite hurlers were strikeout pitchers. Well, not anymore. The Cubs Trevor Megill, who carried an ERA over 10 through his first 18 appearances, has Ked 18 batters in his past 10 innings and 23 in his last 13.
Welcome back, David: Rays reliever David Robertson, who made his name as Mariano Rivera’s setup man in the early 2010s before becoming a closer himself, missed most of 2019 due to an elbow injury and eventual Tommy John surgery. After joining the free agent market in 2020, he bounced around in baseball limbo until Tampa Bay signed him on August 16 of this year. On September 1, he made his long-awaited return to the majors and hasn’t skipped a beat. In 4 innings, he has 8 strikeouts with just 1 run surrendered.
Just call him up already: Have you ever wondered why some teams keep recalling the same mediocrity from the minor leagues when there are players performing well who haven’t been given a try? Albert Almora and Travis Blankenhorn are just a couple examples of men the Mets have used time and again with no luck, while the likes of Mark Payton (.316 average at Triple-A Syracuse) still wait their turn.
The evolution of Mark Payton: Speaking of Mark Payton, he has to be one of the unlikeliest players to hit 30 home runs in a season—whether it be in the majors or minors. At the University of Texas in 2011, he didn’t hit a single dinger in 240 at-bats. A couple years later, in 2013, he again went without a homer in 178 ABs. After not hitting more than 10 home runs in any of his first five minor league seasons, he exploded with 30 at Triple-A in 2019, to go along with a .334/.400/.653 line. He has 4 in 86 games at all levels this season.
400 dingers, 10 years: The last man to slug 400 or more home runs in a ten-season span was Albert Pujols, who clobbered 404 from 2003 to 2012.
Return of Greenberg: Remember when Adam Greenberg returned for a single at-bat with the Marlins in 2012, after being hit in the head in his first career try with Chicago back in 2005?
A little more about Adam: Between his initial stint in the majors in 2005 and his return in 2012, Adam Greenberg bounced around the minor and independent leagues. He spent four seasons with the Bridgeport Bluefish and developed into quite the speed demon, stealing 53 bags for them in 2009 and 44 in 2010.
A great way to start: In his first full campaign, 1986, relief pitcher Mark Eichhorn tossed the most innings of any reliever with zero starts and a sub-2.00 ERA, ever. With the Blue Jays that year, he made 69 appearances, threw 157 innings and had a 1.72 mark. He finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting and 6th in Cy Young Award balloting.
Beat him by a decade: When he spent a couple seasons with the Giants in the 1960s, pitcher Masanori Murakami became the first player from Japan to appear in the major leagues. But before him, there was Hirofumi Naito, who played in Nippon Professional Baseball from 1949 to 1961. The Dodgers offered him a contract in 1953, but he felt he couldn’t it cut it at the big league level, so he declined.
1.000 average: In 1944, Steve Biras spent 2 games with the Cleveland Indians, had 2 at-bats and collected 2 hits. And that was the entirety of his career, giving him a 1.000 career mark … not just in the majors, but professionally. He never played in the minors, having been signed from a semi-professional club, and didn’t join those ranks after his brief big league stint.
Jackie’s brother: Jackie Robinson’s brother, Mack, was an excellent track and field athlete. In the 1936 Olympics, he finished second behind fellow American Jesse Owens in the 200 meter dash.
Oh hi, roomie: Outfielder and 1981 All-Star Tom Paciorek’s first minor league roommate was utility player Bobby Valentine. His last big league skipper? Bobby Valentine, with the Rangers in 1986.
The good and the bad: Pitcher Greg Bicknell spent 19 seasons playing pro ball, mostly in the indy leagues. In 2005, twirling for the Kansas City T-Bones, he set the Northern League record with 16 victories. The high from his great season was short lived. The next campaign, back with Kansas City, he set the league record with 13 losses.
Fantasy baseball experiment: I was in sixth place in my fantasy baseball league and wasn’t going anywhere, so I started to experiment—I began only using players who had been hot within the past week, so at any given moment my team is filled with no-names and backups like Jordan Luplow, Austin Hedges and DJ Peters. Well, it hasn’t worked. I’ve dropped to 12th place. Good thing I’m not a real GM.