Facts and whodathunkits from the world of baseball, September 17, 2021.

Cameron was a decent slugger, hitting 278 home runs in 17 seasons. (Wikipedia).

I’m going solo: There have been 18 four-home run games in major league history. Only one man clobbered all solo shots when he did it—Seattle’s Mike Cameron on May 2, 2002 against the White Sox. He victimized Sox hurler Jim Parque thrice and reliever Jon Rauch for one. It was a slugfest that day—second baseman Bret Boone walloped two homers, while Jeff Cirillo added one of his own.

Hit for the career cycle: The only player to finish his career with one single, one double, one triple and one home run was Jerry Brooks, who played briefly for the Dodgers and Marlins in 1993 and 1996, respectively. In 1993, he had a double and a home run and in 1996, he had a single and a triple.

Fear my mighty power? Bob Didier, a catcher who played from 1969 to 1974, didn’t hit a single home run in 751 career at-bats. That didn’t stop opposing pitchers from intentionally walking the .229 career hitter 16 times, the most ever among batsmen without a dinger. Thirteen of those instances came when he was batting eighth in the lineup. The pitchers behind him must have been really, really awful hitters … even for moundsmen.

Couldn’t get an out: The last time neither starter managed to get a single batter out before being yanked from the game was September 21, 1989. The Reds’ Jack Armstrong gave up a single, a walk, a run scoring-double, a two-run home run and a walk, in that order, before being replaced by reliever Tim Birtsas. The Padres Dennis Rasmussen allowed a single, a single, a three-run home run, a single and a double before relief pitcher Mark Grant took over. The Padres ended up winning 11-7. What’s especially odd about the game is both Armstrong and Rasmussen were good pitchers. Armstrong would be an All-Star the next year and Rasmussen won 16 games with a 3.43 ERA the year before.

Got carried away: The White Sox Pat Caraway was a hard luck pitcher. On July 23, 1931, he surrendered 11 runs against Boston, then allowed 13 against the Yankees in his next start, July 26. And after that—9 runs against New York the next day. Though he carried an ERA under 3 into June, he finished the year with a league-leading 24 losses and a 6.22 ERA.

Black was out of the major leagues by the time he was 33. (Wikipedia).

Leave well enough alone: Joe Black was an excellent pitcher who, in his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, went 15-4 with a 2.15 ERA, 171 ERA+ and league-leading 41 games finished. He won the Rookie of the Year Award and finished third in MVP voting. But he was a two-pitch pitcher and manager Chuck Dressen wanted him to learn a changeup. Bad idea—Black messed up his mechanics (and mindset) in the process. After 1952, he had a 4.84 ERA in 116 games.

That’s a lot of hits: On May 13, 1958, against Los Angeles, the Giants had five players collect four or more hits: Orlando Cepeda, Bob Schmidt, Daryl Spencer and Danny O’Connell had four each, while Willie Mays had five. The Giants won 16-9. Since 1901, no other team has had that many batters with four-plus hits in a game; the last time a team had four players with that many knocks was July 13, 2019. Facing the Rockies, the Reds’ Nick Senzel, Yasiel Puig and Jose Peraza whacked four hits each, while Phil Ervin had six. Cincinnati won, 17-9.

World leader in sacrifice hits: Who holds the record for most sacrifice hits among all major professional baseball leagues? Japan’s Masahiro Kawai, who had 533 in 23 seasons from 1984 to 2006. The Major League Baseball leader is Hall of Famer Eddie Collins with 512; the active major leaguer is Clayton Kershaw with 110. He has a way to go.

Worst trades in Mets history #1: Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady

Mike Cameron, toward the end of his career. (Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong, at the time this wasn’t a terrible deal. Only in retrospect can we see how much the Mets lost.

Outfielder Mike Cameron, he of great defense, good pop and even better speed, joined the Mets in 2004 and hit 30 home runs that season. In 2005, he was on pace for one of the best years of his career, hitting 12 home runs with 39 RBI and an elevated batting average through 79 games.

Partway through the year, however, he was involved in a terrible outfield collision with Carlos Beltran, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. It was a matter of two center fielders trying for the ball at the same time—Cameron had shifted to right field to accommodate the newly arrived Beltran, but he was a center fielder by trade.

In Cameron, the Mets had damaged goods who might or might not fully recover and a guy who was forced to play out of his natural position. Trading him, and his pretty large contract, seemed like a good idea.

On November 18, 2005, he was sent to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Xavier Nady.

Nady spent less than a full season in New York, hitting .264 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI in 75 games before himself being sent to the Pirates. Granted, he was a big reason the Mets got off to a hot start in 2006—they were 46-29 in games he played—but the brevity of his stay negated much of the impact he had on the club.

Upon leaving the Mets, Cameron averaged 23 home runs, 75 RBI, 81 runs scored and 17 stolen bases per year from 2006 to 2009. He was superior to Nady on defense, quicker on the base paths and possessed greater power. Nady, never a slugger, averaged only 10 home runs and 42 RBI per season from 2007 to 2012.

The Mets traded Cameron, a former All Star centerfielder, for Nady, a marginal starting outfielder, at best. At the time, it seemed like it made sense. But the power of hindsight suggests it didn’t.