Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 9, 2021.

Another late-night edition. The vagaries of real life get in the way sometimes.

Estrada’s power surge might be short-lived, as he owns a career slugging mark of .406. (Wikipedia).

Gotta love Estrada: Giants utilityman Thairo Estrada is making his presence known, slugging .727 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI over the past week. On September 6 at Colorado, he went 3-for-5 with a couple dingers and 3 RBI. He was a .214 career hitter before this season; he’s hitting .277 this year.

Yoshi’s cranking: The Pirates’ Yoshi Tsutsugo was a slugger in Japan, smashing 45 homers for the Yokohama Bay Stars in 2016 and 38 in 2018. His time stateside hasn’t worked out so well, as he owns a .199/.301/.396 slash line in 111 games over two years here. He started 2021 with a .120 average in 25 at-bats for the Dodgers, who released him August 14. Perhaps a change of scenery is all he needed—since joining Pittsburgh on August 16, he has 7 home runs, 15 RBI and a .286/.349/.768 line.

 A.J. is A-OK: Diamondbacks rookie hurler A.J. Alexy has started off on the right foot, allowing just two hits and no runs in 11 frames over two starts so far. His 5 walks are a little disconcerting, but not unexpected—he averaged 4.4 per 9 frames in the minor leagues.

Effross is a winner: Relief pitchers usually don’t rack up too many decisions, but that didn’t stop Cubs rookie Scott Effross from winning 2 of his first 4 outings with Chicago. In 5 2/3 frames in his short career, he has 7 strikeouts and no walks allowed.

The ballad of Matt Harvey: It astonishes me how far current Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has fallen. He was nicknamed “The Dark Knight of Gotham” and (most gallingly) “the Real Deal.” In his first full season, 2013, he had a 2.27 ERA and 157 ERA+, while averaging 9.6 strikeouts per 9 innings. After missing 2014 to injury, he returned in 2015 and posted a 2.71 mark in 29 starts. Ahh, his glory years with the Mets. Look at him now: In 28 starts this year, he is 6-14 with a 6.27 ERA; he averages about 4 2/3 innings per outing. Since 2017, he is 21-38 with a 6.15 ERA.

Keuchel has underwhelmed: The rise of current White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel was swift, and so was his decline. In the three years prior to his Cy Young Award-winning 2015 campaign, when he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts for Houston, he was 21-27 with a 4.16 ERA. Since that excellent season, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA and this year, he’s 8-9 with a mark of 5.33.

Losing All-Star: The last time a pitcher made the All-Star team the same year he led his league in losses was 2019. That season, the Marlins Sandy Alcantara lost 14 games for that 57-105 club. On the bright side, he led the league in complete games and shutouts, with 2 each.

Mikolas spent 2014 to 2017 in Japan, going 31-16 with a 2.34 ERA in the Land of the Rising Sun. (Wikipedia).

Winner, loser: And the last hurler to lead the league in wins one year then losses the next? Miles Mikolas. After pacing the NL with 18 victories in 2018, he went the opposite direction and led the loop with 14 losses the next year. It wasn’t a horrible season, as he walked less than 2 batters per 9 innings, on average, and posted a higher strikeout rate than the previous campaign, but it was no 2018. That year, he finished 6th in Cy Young voting.

Wore two legendary numbers: Babe Ruth wore number 3, Mickey Mantle wore number 7. Which Yankee wore both? Outfielder Cliff Mapes. He wore the Bambino’s number in 1948 and the Mick’s number from 1949 to 1951.

That’s a lot of ejections: You think umpires eject too many players nowadays? On July 19, 1946, the White Sox were playing Boston at Fenway Park when umpire Red Jones kicked all fourteen Chicago players and coaches from the bench. Jones was known for having a short fuse, leading American League umpires in ejections in both 1946 and 1948.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 8, 2021.

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.

Alford has 71 strikeouts in 162 career at-bats. (Wikipedia).

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.

Murakami was impressive in his brief big league stay, posting a 3.43 ERA and striking out 100 batters in 89 1/3 innings. (Wikipedia).

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.

Paciorek fashioned an 18-year career in the majors, but had less than 1,200 hits. (Wikipedia).

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.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 7, 2021.

Max Scherzer 3,000 K watch: Facing the Cardinals last night, Dodgers ace Max Scherzer struck out 13 batters, bringing his career total to 2,994. Once he reaches the 3,o00 strikeout milestone, he will be one of just 19 pitchers with that many.

Miguel Cabrera 3,000 hit watch: It’s looking more and more unlikely that the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera will reach 3,000 hits this year, as the aging slugger hasn’t managed a hit since September 3 and still stands 36 away from the magic number. It would have been difficult for him to reach it, anyway, but now it looks like he’ll have to wait until next year.

Greinke has six seasons of 200-plus Ks. (Wikipedia).

Zack Greinke 3,000 K watch: I was going to start the countdown for Greinke once he got within 200 strikeouts of 3,000 … but he Ked just one batter his last time out and still stands at 2,799 for his career. He’s averaged as many as 10.5 K/9 IP in a season (2011) and holds an 8.1 mark for his career, but this year his number is down to just 6.2.

Arauz arises: Red Sox infielder Jonathan Arauz is hitting .169 in 59 at-bats this season, with a .136 mark over the past week. But he’s making his knocks count—two of his last three hits were dingers, while the third was a double. So despite his anemic average, his slugging percentage over the past seven days was still .455.

Ty Cobb when he doesn’t K: Over the past month, Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer is hitting .362—on balls in play. But he has also struck out 36 times in 86 at-bats, giving him a line of .244/.333/.419 with 4 home runs, 9 walks, 14 runs scored and 13 RBI.

Trevor turning it around: After another solid performance yesterday (5 IP, 2 ER), Mets pitcher Trevor Williams now owns a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings since joining the club in August. He pitched for the Cubs earlier in the year and had a 5.06 mark in 58 2/3 innings with them.

Jarlin’s amazing: Since 2019, Giants reliever Jarlin Garcia owns a 2.34 ERA and 181 ERA+ in 119 appearances. With San Francisco last year, he had an astounding 0.49 ERA and 893 ERA+ in 19 games; this year, his marks are 2.33 and 179, respectively. Over the past month, he’s surrendered a single run in 16 innings. And he’s bucked the trend by not being a strikeout pitcher: He’s averaged just 7.2 K/9 IP for his career.

Two Davis birthdays: Two Davis’ of note were born on this day. Wade Davis, who for four years (2014-2017) was one of the premier relief pitchers in the game, turns 36. With the Royals in 2014 and 2015, he had an ERA of 0.97 in 140 appearances and he gave up more than one earned run in a game just once each year. During his incredible four-year stretch, he surrendered more than 2 runs just once. Curt Davis, who started and relieved in the 1930s and 1940s, was also born today. In 13 seasons, he won 158 games—including 19 in his rookie campaign, 1934—and made two All-Star Games.

He’s better than your team: Babe Ruth’s single season home run totals tied or exceeded those of an entire team’s 94 times in his career.

Lots of Ks, just to take the L: On September 15, 1969, facing the Mets, Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton struck out 19 batters, including the last three he faced, tossed a complete game … and lost, 4-3. He has company. A few years later, on August 20, 1974, The Angels’ Nolan Ryan Ked 19 Tigers in an 11-inning complete game, but lost 1-0; Detroit’s starter Mickey Lolich went the distance that day, too. On June 24, 1997, Seattle’s Randy Johnson had 19 strikeouts in a complete game loss against Oakland.

Wainwright leads active pitchers with 27 career complete games. (Wikipedia).

Complete game losses still happen: Though hurlers rarely pitch more than 6 or so frames nowadays, complete game losses aren’t yet a vestige of the past. The most recent nine inning example was on April 26 of this year, when the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright went the distance in a losing effort against Philadelphia. It’s happened 29 times since 2010.

Halladay went the distance: The last pitcher to toss a complete game of 10-plus innings and win? Roy Halladay, on April 13, 2007. The last pitcher to toss a complete game shutout of 10-plus innings and win? Roy Halladay, on September 6, 2003.

Excellent in the minors and majors: Pitcher Larry Jansen was 122-69 with a 2.77 ERA in 11 minor league seasons; in the majors, he was 122-89 with a 3.58 mark over nine campaigns, making him 244-158 with a 3.19 ERA overall. He had two 20-win seasons with the New York Giants (1947 & 1951) and was also the last hurler to win 30 games in a minor league campaign. In 1946, he was 30-6 with a 1.57 ERA in 38 games for the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals.

RBI king: Most RBI in a season by a batter with fewer than 10 home runs? You have to go back to 1899 for that. Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty had a league-leading 137 RBI on 9 dingers that year. One-hundred-plus ribbies with fewer than 10 big flies doesn’t happen often nowadays—Paul Molitor was the last to do it with 9 homers and 113 RBI in 1996. Before him, Tom Herr managed it in 1985 with 8 dingers and 110 RBI. Before Herr, Hall of Famer George Kell did it in 1950 (8 HR, 101 RBI).

Jones was 20-4 with a 1.24 ERA with the Philadelphia Stars in 1934. (Wikipedia).

Probably not worth it: In the fall of 1938, Negro league pitcher Slim Jones, low on funds, had a hankering for some booze but no money to buy it. He sold his overcoat to purchase a bottle of whiskey, promptly got pneumonia and died.

Reliving the dream: Rick Wolff played in the Tigers system in 1973 and 1974. Later a sportswriter, he reprised his role as player when he spent 3 games with the Single-A South Bend White Sox in 1989 for a story for Sports Illustrated. Going 4-for-7 with 3 RBI, he had the highest batting average (.571) on the team that year.

World traveler: Pitcher Len Picota played in the affiliated minors from 1984 to 1993, mostly in the Cardinals system. After that, he toured the world, spending time in Taiwan, Korea, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and his native Panama. In 2001, he joined the Expos in spring training, eight years after his last stint in affiliated ball, but was released before Opening Day.

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.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 5, 2021.

Something about those catchers: These past couple days, I’ve noted impressive runs by some otherwise unimpressive catchers—Philadelphia’s Rafael Marchan and Detroit’s Dustin Garneau, for example. Here’s one more: the Blue Jays’ Danny Jansen. In his past 14 at-bats going back to July 11, he’s hitting .500/.533/1.571 with 4 home runs, 3 doubles, 4 RBI and 4 runs scored. That’s right, each of his last 7 hits went for extra bases. He added another dinger yesterday.

Barnhart has won two Gold Gloves. (Wikipedia).

How about one more: Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart has been solid this past month, hitting .294 with a couple home runs, 4 doubles, 11 RBI and 6 runs scored. He’s no Salvador Perez, but any team would take numbers like that.

Found a Holme: Yankees reliever Clay Holmes began the year poorly with Pittsburgh, posting a 5.13 ERA through July 20. A trade to New York changed his fortunes: With his new club, he is 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA in 12 games; in 13 2/3 innings, he’s surrendered just 7 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 16 batters.

Blake’s doing great: It’s the less-known pieces that have helped the Astros to first place in the American League West, reliever Blake Taylor among them. Since July 18, he has a 2.40 ERA in 19 appearances; he hasn’t surrendered a run since August 21. Ryan Pressly is the bullpen’s All-Star, but Taylor, and guys like him, are just as valuable.

Appreciating the Mets’ little guys: Each year, the Mets seem to find at least one diamond in the rough—a guy or two who unexpectedly perform far beyond anyone’s expectations. Brandon Drury, a career .249 hitter, is batting .274 with a .476 slugging mark in 51 games. Pitcher Trevor Williams, acquired from the Cubs in the Javier Baez trade, began the season with a 5.06 ERA, but has a 0.69 mark in 13 innings so far with New York. Even reliever Aaron Loup, who had a 3.38 ERA going into the year, has stunned Metsdom with a 1.16 mark in 55 appearances. Not bad, guys.

Jayson Werth-less: Former Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth signed with the club in December 2010 for seven years and $126 million dollars and hit .263 with 109 home runs, 162 doubles and 393 RBI for the duration of the deal. In other words, each home run cost $1.156 million, each double cost $777,778 and each RBI cost $320,611.

Mr. Consistent: From 2009 to 2019, a span of 11 seasons, former outfielder Adam Jones averaged 162 hits, 25 home runs, 80 RBI and 82 runs scored per year. His season numbers never fell below 126, 15, 63 or 54, respectively.

Winning runs in the family: Former second baseman Chuck Knoblauch won four World Series rings in the 1990s—one with the Twins and three with the Yankees. His father, Ray, was also a champion. He coached Bellaire High School in Texas to four state titles.

Nomo he wasn’t: Before there were Daisuke Matsuzaka and Masahiro Tanaka, there were Hideo Nomo and Katsuhiro Maeda. Never heard of Maeda? In the wake of Nomomania, he was signed by the Yankees in 1996 after a bidding war with the Giants and White Sox. He spent five years in their system and went just 18-21 with a 4.69 ERA, peaking at Triple-A.

More to the Maeda story: After he flunked out of the minor leagues, Maeda continued his baseball journey—but initially not back in Japan. After failing to make a Nippon Professional Baseball team’s roster, he went to Taiwan, where he played in 2002, then Italy, where he spent 2003. In 2004, he signed with the Shanghai Eagles, becoming China’s first Japanese player. As recently as 2008, he was still going in the minor Shikoku-Kyūshū Island League in Japan.

Very first Marlin: He never played in the major leagues, but pitcher Clemente Nunez was the first player ever signed by the Florida Marlins. Inked to a contract on December 16, 1991, he spent five seasons in their system. Included in that run was a 12-6, 2.48 line with Single-A Brevard County in 1995. He was 29-26, 3.51 overall.

Baines was a controversial Hall of Fame pick and his numbers play that out. (Wikipedia).

Just a phantom: Bruce Dostal, a centerfielder who spent four years at Triple-A, was this close to becoming a major leaguer. On the Orioles active roster for four games in June 1994, the ballplayer was twice told by late manager Johnny Oates that he would pinch run for future Hall of Famer Harold Baines if Baines reached base … he didn’t and Dostal was soon sent packing. Despite being with the team, he does not count as a major leaguer because he never appeared in a game. Rather, he became a phantom major leaguer.

Lot of games, but not hits: Speaking of Baines, he has the third-fewest career hits of anyone who played as many games as he did (2,830) with 2,866. Only Brooks Robinson, who had 2,848 knocks, and Rusty Staub, who had 2,716, did worse.

The first youngster: Who was the youngest player in the National Association’s first year, 1871? 17-year-old Joe Battin, who appeared in a single game for the Cleveland Forest Citys. He went hitless.

Battin led the league with 98 games played in 1883, despite batting just .214. (Wikipedia).

Battin worst: Joe Battin’s name is a misnomer … he couldn’t bat well at all. In 10 seasons, he slashed just .225/.241/.281 in 480 games. He holds one of the lowest on-base percentages of anyone with at least 400 games.

No-no not enough: While playing in Japan in 2006, former Padres prospect Rick Guttormson tossed a no-hitter … and was sent down to their version of the minor leagues the next day. Nippon Professional Baseball limits how many foreign players a team can hold and his club, the Yakult Swallows, had recently brought former Mets and Devil Rays hurler Dicky Gonzalez on board. Needing to make room, they cast Guttormson aside.

A different kind of senator: In 1913, minor league first baseman Scott Lucas hit .349 in 95 games, including .462 in 34 showings with the Class-D Pekin Celestials. After a couple more seasons, the Illinois native realized baseball wasn’t for him and chose a career in politics. Serving in the United States House of Representatives from 1935 to 1939, he later became a Senator, remaining in that capacity for over a decade. From 1949 to 1951, he was the Senate Majority Leader.

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.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 3, 2021.

Familia has spent his whole career with New York, save for a 30 game stint with Oakland in 2018. (Wikipedia).

Familia territory: Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia saved 43 games with a 1.85 ERA in 2015 and had a league-leading 51 saves in an All-Star 2016. Since then, he’s slipped to a 4.07 ERA, but his recent stretch resembles the Familia of old. He’s struck out 6 batters in his last 3 innings of work, 30 in his last 21 1/3 frames and 61 in 48 2/3 innings on the year as a whole.

Hunter’s no longer stricken: Brewers hurler Hunter Strickland was one of the game’s better relievers in the mid-2010s, but was stricken with a rapid decline in performance from 2018 to 2020. He seems to have gotten over it: Since joining Milwaukee—his third team this year—on June 14, he has a 1.30 ERA in 25 games; over the past month, that mark is 0.73 in 11 games. He’s 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA is 47 appearances overall.

Marchan marchin’ on: 22-year-old Phillies catcher Rafael Marchan has been a pleasant surprise these past few games, carrying a .333/.412/.667 line with a home run and 3 RBI since August 29. He debuted with a bang last year, going 4-for-8 with a dinger and 3 RBI in a cup of coffee with Philadelphia.

Bryan’s cruisin’ along: If the Marlins’ youngsters can coalesce at the same time, Miami might actually have a decent club in the near future. One such factor in it might be 24-year-old rookie outfielder Bryan De La Cruz, who has hit .340 in 100 at-bats with the club this year and .367/.400/.506 over the past month. He arrived with pitcher Austin Pruitt in a July 28 trade with Houston for reliever Yimi Garcia.

Milestone watch: Kevin Pillar recently played his 1,000th career game, while Anthony Rizzo eclipsed 5,000 at-bats, Josh Donaldson reached 5,000 plate appearances, Nelson Cruz scored his 1,000th run, Asdrubal Cabrera knocked his 400th double, Justin Upton collected his 1,000th RBI, Eric Hosmer and Donaldson clobbered their 500th extra base hits, Jose Abreu was clocked by his 100th pitch (and Salvador Perez by his 50th) and fearsome Freddie Freeman drew his 100th intentional walk.

Growing hopeful about the Mets: New York has won four straight games and are now just a game under .500. They’re 5 back in the Wild Card. Pete Alonso has been cranking the past month. Pitcher Carlos Carrasco might be turning a corner and Marcus Stroman is still throwing like an ace. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over …

Don’t do well in the majors: Lee Gronkiewicz, who had a 2.43 ERA and 159 saves in eight seasons on the farm pitched a single game with the Blue Jays in 2007. Bobby Korecky had a 3.10 ERA and 186 saves in 14 minor league seasons, but posted a 7.39 mark in 24 big league games over 4 seasons. Kevin Quackenbush owns a 2.19 ERA and 127 saves in the minors; he has a 4.41 mark and 87 ERA+ in the bigs. Successful minor league relief pitchers often don’t well at the major league level, or get much of a chance.

Weiss wasn’t much of a hitter, finishing with a career OPS+ of 78. (Wikipedia).

Exactly the same: 1990s shortstop and former Rockies manager Walt Weiss owns the highest career strikeout and walk totals of anyone who finished with the exact same amount (658) of each.

Sharing a name with the stars: Jimmy Stewart was one of the most famous actors of the 20th century. Jimmy Stewart—a different one—was a utilityman who spent 10 years in the majors in the 1960s and 1970s, playing for the Cubs, Reds and others. He’s not the first or only ballplayer to share names with a more famous counterpart—Mike Tyson is a notorious boxer; his baseball pairing was an infielder who played mostly for the Cardinals in the 1970s and early ‘80s. And don’t forget 1980s pitcher Bob Gibson (not to be confused with the Hall of Famer) or ‘80s Mariners outfielder Ricky Nelson (not to be confused with the more famous singer).

Hurlers can hit ‘em, too: Facing the Cubs on May 13, 1942, Braves pitcher Jim Tobin became the only pitcher in modern baseball history to hit three home runs in a single game. With a .230 career average, he was a great hitting pitcher and was often asked to pinch hit.

It was against the Mets: Former Rays pitcher Esteban Yan was the first American League pitcher since the introduction of the designated hitter rule in 1973 to homer in his first career at-bat. Facing the Mets’ Bobby Jones on June 4, 2000, he clobbered an inconsequential solo shot in a game Tampa Bay won 15-5. He also collected a hit in his only other career at-bat.

Unknown member of 60 dinger club: Wladimir Balentien was a fairly well-touted prospect in the 2000s, having set the Arizona League season record for home runs with 16 in 2003. He never found his stroke in the major leagues, but sure did when he went to Japan: In 2013, he hammered 60 big flies for the Yakult Swallows, setting a Nippon Professional Baseball record. He’s still playing over there to this day and has 494 career home runs between all levels.

Hate to say this about him, but: Roger Maris was the ultimate two-year wonder. Before his arrival with the Yankees in 1960, he slashed just .249/.329/.434 with 58 home runs and 203 RBI in 388 games. Then he set the baseball world ablaze by winning two straight MVP awards in 1960 and 1961 and, of course, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record with 61 the latter year. But after that, he was decent, but nothing to write home about: He averaged just 111 games per year over the rest of his career, slashing .259/.343/.446. He earned over 40% of the vote on the Hall of Fame ballot, but two great years does not a Hall of Fame career make … no matter how legendary one of the campaigns might have been.

Maris and Mantle combined for 115 home runs in 1961. The Kansas City Athletics had 90 as a team that year. (Wikipedia).

We’ll try our luck: Most home runs in a season without drawing an intentional walk? Roger Maris in his record-setting 61 home run, 1961 campaign. He batted in front of Mickey Mantle; pitchers preferred to try their hand with the superstar, not the legend. The career record for dingers without an IBB, among players for whom we have complete data, is 107, presently held by Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman.

Records haven’t updated: With the Society for American Baseball Research keeping an eye on things, you’d think they’d catch and verify whenever a former big leaguer passes away. However, such is not the case—it’s fairly well-known that former Braves catcher Hal King died some time ago (even they recognize that) but there has been no official confirmation or article to validate the claim, so they cannot mark him down as “deceased.” And so, he remains alive, per official records at least.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 2, 2021.

Scherzer 3,000 K watch: Facing Atlanta last night, the Dodgers’ Max Scherzer recorded another 9 strikeouts, bringing his season total to 197 and his career total to 2,981. Of course, now that he’s just 19 away from a historic milestone, there’s a hiccup—he was removed from the game due to hamstring tightness.

Can Cabrera do it? With 2 hits, including a home run, against Oakland last night, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is now just 37 away from 3,000. He has to stay hot all month, but 37 more knocks this season isn’t unimaginable.

Lester won 18 games as recently as 2018. (Wikipedia).

200 wins? Easy, lest Lester lose: Cardinals hurler Jon Lester now stands just two wins away from 200, which should be easy to achieve with nearly a whole month left in the season. Should be. He began the year just 7 victories short, but has won only 5 of his 22 starts.

Jose is crushing it: Give any batter a short enough time frame and he can do great things. Such is the case with Rangers catcher Jose Trevino, a career .243 hitter in the majors and a .259 hitter in the minors. Over the past week, he’s gone 7-for-19—that’s a .368 batting average—with 4 doubles and a .579 slugging mark.

No brakes for this Jake: Astros rookie outfielder Jake Meyers has been unstoppable since his debut on August 1. In 25 games, he’s hit .313 with 3 home runs and 5 doubles, after slashing .343/.408/.598 at Triple-A. The downside: In 80 at-bats, he’s walked just twice.

Resurgent Treinen: Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen had a rough and tumble start to 2021, posting a 3.41 ERA through June 23. Since then, he’s been among the best in the league: In 30 1/3 innings over 29 games, he’s allowed 2 runs on 11 hits and 9 walks for a 0.59 ERA. He didn’t surrender a single earned run from June 25 to August 19.

Chafin’s killing it, too: After beginning 2021 with a 5.00 ERA through April 24, Athletics reliever Andrew Chafin has posted a tiny 1.15 mark in 49 appearances since. Batters have slashed .147/.202/.212 against him in that span. From May 8 to July 21, he didn’t allow a single earned run and since July 28, he’s surrendered just 2.

#1 pick update: Henry Davis, taken by the Pirates as this year’s #1 overall draft pick, began his professional career with a .308/.387/.808 line with 3 home runs and 7 RBI in 8 games. He’s now on the 7-day injured list, but that start is promising.

Control issues have hampered Appel—he averaged 6 walks per 9 frames this year. (Wikipedia).

#1 pick update #2: Mark Appel, who the Astros selected at #1 in 2013 then traded to Philadelphia in 2015, left baseball for a few years but decided to mount a comeback this season. Back with the Phillies, he began the year at Double-A and had a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 innings, but was promoted to Triple-A anyway. Though he started off pretty well, he’s slipped bigly and now owns a 6.05 mark at that level. Hey, Tim Tebow got try after try, so Appel might, too. But right now, it’s not looking good for the 30-year-old hurler.

#1 pick update #3: The Astros took Brady Aiken #1 overall in 2014, but he did not sign and re-entered the draft the next year. He was then taken by Cleveland with the 17th pick. Though still in their system, he hasn’t played at all this year and has thrown just 2/3 of an inning since 2017.

2014 draft was rough: The #2 pick in the 2014 draft, Tyler Kolek, taken by Miami, flunked out of the minors after 2019. He never played above A-ball.

Growing hopeful about the Mets: I was getting really nervous about the Mets as they started to tumble, but perhaps my worries were premature. If I did my math correctly, their magic number to overtake first-place Atlanta is 36. They each have 32 games left—if the Mets win 20 and the Braves lose 16, New York could, feasibly, win the division … assuming Philadelphia doesn’t surge. They recently recalled Khalil Lee from Triple-A; I think he can help New York, as he worked an excellent .450 OBP down there.

 At least I tried: Catcher Russ Nixon attempted 7 stolen bases in his 906-game career, which spanned 1957 to 1968. He was never successful. That is the longest career a non-pitcher managed without stealing a base.

I think I’ll stay put: Former Braves catcher Johnny Estrada, who played from 2001 to 2008, didn’t even attempt a stolen base in 612 games. That is also a record.

Wolters led the National Association in RBI in 1871. (Wikipedia).

But my ERA was perfect! Oh, 1870s baseball, you provide us with so many wonders. Rynie Wolters pitched a single game in 1873 and went the whole nine innings, as hurlers were wont to do then. He surrendered 23 runs on 13 hits, a walk and what must have been a boatload of hit by pitches (we don’t know how many, they weren’t recorded then) … but didn’t surrender a single earned run. That was his last season, so he could say he finished his career on a high note, posting a 0.00 ERA in his final year. *Though, honestly, one wonders if his line is accurate or if it was entered into the record books incorrectly and has never been fixed).

Swaziland represent: The small landlocked African nation of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has produced a professional baseball player. Steve Martin, born in the capital of Mbabne, played in the Astros system in 2011. He had a 6.00 ERA in 16 rookie ball games.

Giving props to The Baseball Cube: Most folks’ go-to source for baseball data is Baseball-Reference.com. But I have to give it to The Baseball Cube, as well. They offer a LOT that Baseball Reference doesn’t, like information on scouts, detailed Baseball America rankings and more in-depth college coverage, like records for coaches. It really is a great resource that I don’t think earns enough praise. (I didn’t get paid to say this).

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 1, 2021.

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.

Yadiel Hernandez debuted with Washington in 2020. (Wikipedia).

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.

Jeff Kent has been on the Hall of Fame ballot eight times and has never earned more than 32.4% of the vote. (Wikipedia).

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.

Bill Dammann wasn’t long for the majors, but he won 20-plus games in the minors a couple times. (Wikipedia).

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.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, August 31, 2021.

DJ Stewart was a first round pick in 2015. (Wikipedia).

Stellar Stewart: Demetrius Jerome “D.J.” Stewart, presently of the Baltimore Orioles, has always had power. It’s just that little else accompanies it. Over the past week, however, he’s put it all together, going 4-for-9 with a dinger, 4 RBI, 5 walks and 3 runs scored. Stewart has smashed 25 home runs in 497 career at-bats, but he needs to get his strikeouts (156) under control and his average (.215) up a bit.

In the fast lane: Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas hit .111 in 36 at-bats for the Cardinals last year and began 2021 with a .107 mark in 48 trips to the plate. But a trade to the Nationals—in exchange for struggling starter Jon Lester—has changed his fortunes. In 42 ABs with his new club, he’s hitting .310. In his rookie season, 2018, he slashed .316/.409/.684.

Chargois chugging along: Rays reliever J.T. Chargois has had a great 2021 campaign, but since July, he’s been lights-out. In 20 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just 4 earned runs for a 1.77 ERA. Since being traded from the Mariners on July 29, his mark is 0.71 in 12 games. His number is 2.32 in 43 games on the year.

Diamond in the rough: Though he was a third round pick in 2014, Chris Ellis has never been much of a prospect. In 2017, while pitching in the Cardinals system, he was 7-12 with a 5.29 ERA in 30 games (22 starts). But the 28-year-old rookie turned heads with his first and only appearance with the Rays this season, striking out 7 and earning the win in a 4 inning relief appearance against Baltimore on August 17. Now an Oriole himself, he surrendered just 1 run in 4 2/3 innings yesterday.

Worth the wait: On August 26, Ervin Santana recorded his 150th career win. He had been sitting at 149 since September 23, 2017.

Even 150 wins is tough these days: The 150-win club isn’t particularly exclusive, with 266 total members. The next-closest active pitcher? Johnny Cueto, with 135 victories.

Another call for Khalil? Outfielder Khalil Lee, a former top prospect acquired by the Mets in February, had just 1 hit in 18 at-bats in his first try with New York. But it might be worth giving him another shot—with Triple A Syracuse this year, his on-base percentage is .442, the 4th-best mark in the International League (it will always be the International League to me!).

Hat tip to a former Met (prospect): And guess who’s leading the Interna …okay, okay … Triple-A East in home runs? Former Mets third base prospect Aderlin Rodriguez, who played in their system from 2009 to 2015. Playing in the Tigers chain, he has 25 dingers this year, as well as a .304 average, with Toledo. Should he reach the majors, which he has yet to do, it will have been a long, winding path that took him through five big league systems and over to Japan.

Rob Deer hit .220 with 230 home runs in his career. (Wikipedia).

It’s a modern trend: Before 2010, only three players had ever had 20 or more home runs in a season in which they batted .200 or worse: Rob Deer (1991, 25 HR, .179 BA), Ruben Rivera (1999, 23, .195) and Mark McGwire (2001, 29, .187). From 2010 on, it’s happened 12 times—by Mark Reynolds twice.

Pettitte was a workhorse: Andy Pettitte has had trouble gaining traction on the Hall of Fame ballot. But say what you will about him, he was a workhorse, tossing 175 or more innings fourteen times. No active pitcher has done that, with Justin Verlander the closest at 13 instances. Only five pitchers who debuted after 1990 managed it that many times—Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, C.C. Sabathia, Mike Mussina and, most surprisingly, Livan Hernandez.

Relief pitchers can’t hit—oh, wait: On July 19, 1955, Tigers relief pitcher Babe Birrer clobbered two home runs against the Baltimore Orioles. Both were three run shots, giving him 6 RBI on the day. They represented 2 of his 7 career hits and all 6 of his ribbies. A few years later, in 1958, he hit .571 (4-for-7).

Ryan Madson owns two World Series rings. (Wikipedia).

Not easy to guess: Mariano Rivera holds the record for most postseason appearances, with 96. It makes sense—he pitched during the Yankees’ glory years, when they were making the playoffs time and again. Who pitched the second-most games in playoff history? It was Ryan Madson, with 57 (mostly for the Phillies) from 2003 to 2018.

No 300 game winners: No pitcher who debuted in the 1990s won 300 games—Mike Mussina, who arrived in 1991, came the closest with 270. Likewise, the 1950s did not produce any future 300 game winners. 1959 debut Jim Kaat was the closest, with 283 victories. The ‘70s were devoid of such hurlers, as well, with 287-game winner Bert Blyleven, who debuted in 1970, narrowly missing the mark.

Who needs strikeouts: The last pitcher to win at least 20 games in a season with less than 100 strikeouts was Bill Gullickson in 1991. Pitching for the Detroit Tigers that year, he went 20-9 with just 91 Ks. It’s actually rarer for a pitcher to lose 20 games without 100 Ks—since 1950, that’s happened just six times, with the most recent instance being Mike Maroth in 2003 (21 L, 87 K). Twenty-plus victories and fewer than 100 Ks has happened 14 times since 1950.

How’d he win so many? In 1929, the Negro league New York Lincoln Giants’ Connie Rector led the league in earned runs, home runs allowed and hit by pitches. He surrendered more hits than innings pitched and walked more batters than he struck out. He also went 18-1, leading the league in victories and winning percentage. He accounted for nearly half his team’s 40 wins.

That’s a lot of games: The single-season professional record for most games played, as far as we know, belongs to William Devereaux. Playing for the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks in 1904, he appeared in 228. In 777 at-bats, he collected 180 hits for a .232 average.

Not X-actly easy:  Major league baseball has never had a player with a surname beginning with the letter X, and it looks like they won’t for a while. There are no active minor leaguers with such a name.