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, August 23, 2021.

Of course it was a (former) Met: More often than not, it seems, singular events involving the Mets evoke feelings of cringe and consternation. Carlos Beltran struck out looking to end the 2006 NLCS; Wilmer Flores did the same to end the 2015 World Series; Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at fans. Add another inglorious moment to the Mets’ log: Former starter Steven Matz, who played for New York from 2015 to 2020, will be known forever and always as the hurler who surrendered Miguel Cabrera’s 500th home run. At least he’s not alone: Former Met Dennis Springer surrendered Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run in 2001 and Mike Bacsik, who played for New York in 2002 and 2003, gave up Bonds’ record-breaking 756th dinger in 2007.

Blake Treinen’s ERA is 1.72 points lower than last year. (Wikipedia).

Riley rising: Keep an eye on Blue Jays rookie catcher Riley Adams. In his past 14 at-bats, he has 7 hits—including a home run and 3 doubles—as well as 5 runs and 4 RBI. Though he’s batting just .230 on the year, his trade to Toronto was a godsend—in 14 games with them, he’s batting .333.

The good Treinen’s back: There’s two Blake Treinens: The good one and the bad one. In 2021, we’ve seen the good one. In 54 games with the Dodgers this season, he has a 2.14 ERA while averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings; in the past week, he’s averaged nearly two strikeouts per frame. But the hurler can be an inconsistent headache. After posting a 2.28 ERA in 2016, his mark jumped to 3.93 the next year. After posting a 0.78 ERA in an All-Star 2018, his number leapt to 4.91 in 2019.

Head-ing south: Through August 12, Rays reliever Louis Head had a 1.29 ERA. Less than two weeks later, that mark is up to 3.16 after a few rough outings—over his last 4 appearances, he has a 14.73 ERA. Nevertheless, there is always a silver lining: He has 19 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings over the past month.

Rookie Rooker rockin’: He’s not yet lived up to his first round billing, but Twins rookie outfielder Brent Rooker is hitting the cover off the ball over the past month, to the tune of 5 home runs and 6 doubles in 91 at-bats. It’s a pretty impressive showing for a kid who’s season began 3-for-33, and who, through July 25, was batting .122. Since August 14, he’s hit .444, including  a 4-for-5 game on August 13. He batted .316 in his seven-game cup of coffee last year.

Slower than molasses: Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers has played 275 games over four professional seasons. He’s never stolen a base.

Kings of futility: In 2019, nine teams finished at least 30 games out of first place and three—Baltimore, Detroit and Miami—at least 40 games. Detroit was 53 1/2 games back. But that’s not as bad as the 1995 American League Central, when four clubs finished at least 30 games out—all behind the 100-win, pennant-winning Indians.

George Kell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983.

It’s your birthday, by George: Two Hall of Fame Georges were born on this day. George Kell, a ten-time All-Star from the 1940s and 1950s, joined this earth in 1922. George Davis, who starred in the 1890s and 1900s, was born in 1870. He was elected to Cooperstown almost a century after he retired, in 1998.

Greatness isn’t a game: Victor Mateo tossed two no-hitters in his professional career—the first in 2011 and the next in 2013. Despite those two stellar games, he was pretty ho-hum overall and spent less than 50 innings at Triple A, posting a 7.11 ERA at that level. He played from 2007 to 2017 and went 62-67 in his career.

No hits? No problem: Two other pitchers in the affiliated minors tossed two no-hitters in the 2010s. Former Diamondbacks prospect Kyle Schepel did it twice in one year, 2014, while current Reds hurler Tyler Mahle did it in 2016 and 2017. In indy ball, the Frontier League’s Travis Tingle did it twice in 2014, as well—though one game was just 5 innings, the other 7—and Matt Sergey did it in 2014 and 2017. In case you’re wondering, 29 no-nos were tossed in the minor and independent leagues in 2014 alone.

Too short a career: Rick Short might not be a name you remember, but he had a big impact in his 11-game big league stay. In 15-at-bats with the Nationals in 2005, the 32-year-old career minor leaguer went 6-for-15 with 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 4 runs and 4 RBI, slashing .400/.471/.933. It came as no surprise, really. He hit .383 at Triple A that year, as well as .353 in 1995, .324 in 2000 and .356 in 2002. Signing with Rakuten in Japan for 2006, he rattled off three-straight campaigns of .314 or better.

Michael Brady spent 9 years in pro ball. (Wikipedia).

The choice got him to the bigs: Reliever Michael Brady made the right career move. He began as a third baseman, but hit just .086 in 35 at-bats between two clubs his first professional season, 2009; with the GCL Marlins, he had only one hit in 29 at-bats. He converted to pitching following that disastrous campaign and never looked back—through his first five seasons on the mound, he had a 2.16 ERA and 66 saves. The move culminated in him reaching the majors with the Athletics as a 30-year-old rookie in 2017. He had a 5.68 mark in 16 appearances.

Bobby Doerr had over 2,000 hits in his career. (Wikipedia).

Overestimating his value: Pitcher Greg Van Gaver was drafted five times in the early 1970s. In that era of multiple drafts per year, he was taken once in 1970, once in 1971 and three times in 1972—twice by the Yankees alone (the Yankees also took him in ’71) … and he never signed a contract. Perhaps he thought he could do better; it was a terrible lapse in judgement if so. He finally joined the Expos organization—as a free agent—in 1972, but played just one season in rookie ball before calling it quits. Hey, at least he went 5-0.

Autograph reminiscing: As a through-the-mail autograph collector, nothing pleases me more than when I receive a Hall of Famer’s signature back—and I didn’t even have to pay for it. In 2011, Bobby Doerr returned my card signed—for free—in less than ten days. Doerr was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986; he played for the Red Sox from 1937 to 1951 (missing 1945 to service in World War II) and made nine All-Star teams.