Bereft of power or speed — he averaged one home run every 187 at-bats and one stolen base every 20 games — Jorge DeLeon was a multi-positional infield talent who could post a decent average (.296 mark in 2000) and rarely struck out (once every 7 at-bats). He was a solid performer at nearly every level of the minors, save for Triple-A. At that level, he hit .152 in 46 at-bats, which lowered his career average from .281 to .276. In part because of his struggles at the highest level of the minors, the Puerto Rico native with the nice signature never got the call to the bigs.
Infielder Kazuo Matsui was a star in Japan, finishing with over 2,000 hits and a .291 batting average. He was signed by the Mets at a time when Japanese ballplayers were novel and new and making waves—it was the era of Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui (no relation) and Kaz Sasaki. New York tried their hand at a few, inking the likes of Masato Yoshii, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Satoru Komiyama. But those were half steps; the Mets hadn’t yet dipped into the pool of Japanese superstars. Until Matsui.
He ended up hitting .256 in 239 games with New York.
I found this little blurb hiding in one of my folders. I wrote it when I was 15 or so.
Kaz Matsui: Was he a waste, or is it just me?
Mets fans, you may like this article. Any others … well … you may not really care.
Now, as many of you know (or not), I’m a big Mets fan. They are the team I follow the most. I watch their games. I read up on their statistics. And when I see a Met not living up to our expectations, it hurts. It really does.
And, Kaz Matsui is really not living up to our expectations. He was supposed to be an Ichiro-esque player, and he has—it’s a struggle for me to say this—not.
Now, I know it takes some people a few years to become acclimated to the Major League Baseball style, but you don’t have those few years when you’re a 27-year-old rookie! You should be in, or at least entering, your prime by now. And now, Kaz is hitting .230 on the season.
And it’s not just the fact that his average is low, either. Matsui has not shown the power or speed abilities that he showed over in Japan. What happened to 36 home run Kaz Matsui? Where did 62 stolen base Kaz go? My bet is they went with his health, which has not been very good these past two years.
I know he’s been hurt, but that really can’t be an excuse, because when he’s healthy, he not showing anything either.
Well, I’ve ranted long enough. Kaz just isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing. That’s all right.
Jeff Keppinger will be ready to take over his spot any year now.
Coincidentally, Keppinger never had much of an impact with the Mets, spending only 33 games with the club in 2004.
Leody’s ready for launch: Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras hasn’t had what you’d call a good season, or a decent one, or even a bad one. In fact, it’s been downright awful, with the 22-year-old hitting .099 in 71 at-bats. But he’s making his hits counts: He’s walloped a home run in each of the past two games and his last three knocks were for extra bases.
Not a big diel: Nationals outfielder Yadiel Hernandez was batting .314 as recently as August 6, but over the past month his mark is just .266. But even then, he’s produced: In 25 games, he has 3 homers, 9 RBI, 10 runs scored and 9 walks. The slugger had 33 home runs and 90 RBI at Triple-A in 2019, so greater numbers might be ahead.
Triple-A awaits: Twins starter Griffin Jax had a 7.00 ERA in 5 August starts; his mark over his last two was 13.97. In 53 2/3 innings this year, he’s surrendered 16 home runs. Perhaps a little more time on the farm is what he needs.
Brewers churn out one more: The Brewers have a knack for churning out great young (or, at least, rookie) relievers. In the past few seasons, they’ve had Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel, to name a few. Well, add Jake Cousins to the list. The rookie righthander has 36 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA in 22 appearances so far this year. In the past week, he’s Ked 9 batters in 3 1/3 innings.
Ray is #1: With his stellar 10-strikeout performance on August 30, Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray now holds the all-time number 1 spot for strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio. His mark is currently 11.177. He’s trailed closely by Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, so the lead could fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis.
A new record is imminent: In this day and age of batters striking out like madmen, a pitcher is bound to set the record for most strikeouts in a game soon. The current mark of 20 is held by four men and was most recently achieved by Max Scherzer on May 11, 2016.
Speaking of strikeouts: This season, teams are averaging one strikeout per inning, or 9 per game. In 2010, it was just 7.1 per 9 frames. In 2000: 6.5. In 1990: 5.7. How much higher will it go?
Flash from the past: The Angels have a young hurler named Packy Naughton. Does that name not sound like it belongs to someone who played in 1890? Right next to Doggie Miller, Pretzels Getzien and Jocko Halligan. Another anachronistic name was that of Red Patterson, who played for the Dodgers in 2014. He was the first Red to debut since Red Witt in 1957.
Big milestones, no Hall: Only two second basemen have at least 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,000 RBI: Jeff Kent and Robinson Cano. Both have Hall of Fame numbers, but there’s a good chance neither will get the call.
Maybe there’s a chance: With the Mets winning again last night, their magic number to overtake the Braves is 37. Baseball-Reference says they now have a 2.4% chance of making the playoffs. Jose Martinez and Jose Peraza are rehabbing and bound to be back. Noah Syndergaard is getting close. In fact, James McCann, Tomas Nido and a whole slew of players are due to return in the first week of September. Tug, is that you? … you gotta believe …
Couldn’t bring it home: The only players with more than twenty stolen bases and fewer than twenty runs scored in a season are Donell Nixon (1987, 21 SB, 17 R), Harry Pattee (1908, 24, 19) and Chippy McGarr (1888, 25, 17). It’s quite an impressive feat, since speedy guys, it seems, usually score more.
A double’s better than nothing: The record for most doubles in a season with no other extra base hits was set by Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins in 1907. He had 29 doubles and not one triple or home run. The career record is 17, set by Jon Lieber, Lynn McGlothen and Clem Koshorek. Lieber and McGlothen were pitchers, Koshorek an infielder.
Three’s all I need: Who had the most triples in a season without any other extra base hits? You have to go back in time for these guys, but in 1871, John McMullin managed 5 three-base hits without another EXBH. In 1914, George Twombly did the same thing. The career record is 6, held by Bill Dammann. Most incredibly, Dammann was a pitcher.
Now home runs: Most home runs in a season without a double or triple? Six. It’s actually happened seven times, most recently by Carlos Zambrano in 2006. Babe Ruth did it, too. As of this writing, Royals outfielder Edward Olivares has 5 dingers without an extra base hit this year, so he might join the club or break the record. The career record is 4 and is owned by two current guys who, more than likely, will hit another EXBH eventually: The Indians’ Daniel Johnson and the Cardinals’ Justin Williams.
Ultimate singles hitters: And finally, which player had the most hits in a season without an extra base hit? Old time catcher Bill Holbert had 50 in 1879, all of which were singles; the year before, just 2 of his 32 knocks went for extra bases. He slugged .232 for his career. A few years later, in 1890, another catcher named Herman Pitz had 47 hits—all singles. That was his only year in the big leagues, so he owns the record for most career hits without an extra base hit.
Happy birthday, Chuck: Chuck Tompkins, born in 1889, was born on this day. He pitched a single game for the Reds in 1912. He owns both a career 0.00 ERA and 1.000 batting average.
Wagnon dies: Dwayne Wagnon, who pitched a couple years in the Reds system in the early 2000s, died August 21. He had a 2.88 ERA in 20 games in the low minors.
Salvy and Ray appear here to stay.
Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). Hunker down, Perez might own this title for a while. Though he went hitless yesterday, he helped his team by getting on base with a hit by pitch and scoring a run.
It’s not a great single-game performance, but still, over the past week, his line is .333/.429/.958 with 5 home runs, 13 RBI and 6 runs scored. And slugging dingers is almost all he’s done: He’s managed no other extra base hits since August 13, smashing 9 dingers since that date.
He might be insulted if you call him this, but Perez is a ball magnet—with 10 HBPs on the year, he currently ranks seventh in the American League in that category.
Honorable mention: Bryce Harper (OF, Phillies; .519/.576/1.074, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 2B).
Offensive dud: Rougned Odor (IF, Yankees). Once upon a time, going on a decade ago, Odor was a top prospect in the Rangers system. He hammered out three 30-plus home run seasons and played all 162 games in 2017.
Ahh, reminiscing. Since 2019, he’s hit .201/.276/.423 with an OPS+ of 81.
For his career, he’s been in the top five in errors committed by a second baseman each year since 2015 and has led the league five times.
In the past week, he added another error and went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts at the plate; on the year, he’s batting just .211 with 90 Ks in 299 at-bats.
The only Odor here is a stinky one.
Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-15, 7 K).
Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). No pitcher matched Ray’s recent performance (14 IP, 24 K, 1.93 ERA)—and that will be difficult to do—so he’s the Stud for another day.
With modern batters swinging wildly and Ray the best at getting them to do it, he now ranks #1 all-time in career strikeouts per nine innings ratio at 11.18. The next-closest hurler is the Red Sox Chris Sale at 11.10. In fact, the top five in that category are all active (as are seven of the top ten), so leadership might fluctuate day to day and month to month.
Honorable mention: Blake Snell (SP, Padres; 14.2 IP, 20 K, 2 BB, 0.61 ERA).
Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Smith also retains his title, having taken two losses, blown two saves and posted an 11.57 ERA over his last few games. It is a rough tumble for the hurler who, despite his misstep, still ranks among the best non-closing relief pitchers ever. He leads active hurlers with 823 career appearances and is 48th all-time in that category, one spot ahead of a starter, Nolan Ryan.
Dishonorable mention: Edgar Garcia (RP, Twins; 1 2/3 IP, 7 ER, 3 BB. 4 H, 1 WP).
John Eierman spent four seasons in the Boston Red Sox chain, hitting .260 with 37 home runs in 414 games. Perhaps his best campaign was 1993, when he slashed .273/.367/.446 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI in 119 games for the Lynchburg Red Sox. He improved to .285 the next year, but by that point was almost two years older than the average player in his league, so the Red Sox let him go. The Eierman name lives on in pro baseball, however. One son, Johnny, was a 3rd round pick by the Rays in 2011. Another, Jeremy, is currently in the Athletics system. He was the club’s 2nd round pick in 2018.