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.

Article from the archives—2011 Baseball Hall of Fame election results: Alomar, Blyleven elected; Larkin, Morris close

Let’s take a look back on the 2011 Hall of Fame election and what my surely genius and insightful thoughts on it were.

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Another year of Hall of Fame voting and excitement is in the books, and so begins another round of review, second-guessing and ridicule about who was elected—and who was not.

Roberto Alomar made 12 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves. (Wikipedia).

With 90.0 percent of the vote, Roberto Alomar was selected to the Hall of Fame in his second go-around on the ballot, jumping from 73.7% last year. Blyleven, in his 14th year of eligibility, received 79.7% of the vote.

Both are worthy inductees. Alomar hit .300 with 2,724 hits, 210 home runs and 474 stolen bases in 17 major league seasons, earning a spot on 12 All-Star teams, as well as 10 Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Sluggers. In the playoffs he flourished as well, batting .313 in 230 post-season at-bats.

Blyleven does not have the accolades to his name (only two All-Star selections), but he has the numbers to back up his election. With 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts and 242 complete games, Blyleven compiled a career that, though it did not scream “Hall of Fame” while he was playing, developed into a Cooperstown-worthy career nonetheless.

Two other players received at least 50% as well, Barry Larkin and Jack Morris, indicating that they too will one day be elected—especially considering they both received a higher percentage of the votes this year than last. Their Hall of Fame chances increase even more considering the lackluster crop of newcomers arriving next year, with the best player being, perhaps, Bernie Williams.

There were a few newcomers whose performances, or lack thereof, were relatively surprising. John Franco, who had 424 saves and a 2.89 ERA in his 21-year career, received only 4.6% of the vote, meaning he won’t be on the ballot again next year. Even though the cloud of steroids hangs over his head, Rafael Palmeiro’s 11% of the vote is quite low—especially considering fellow alleged ‘roider Mark McGwire received 23.5% of the vote in his first year. Jeff Bagwell actually did surprisingly well, garnering 41.1% of the vote.

Now, it is time to compare my predicted results to the actual voting results. The following are the players I said were going to be elected: Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar. I was correct (most people probably guessed those two, so there is not much to brag about).

I claimed there would be 19 holdovers from this election to next year’s, with that list including Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Alan Trammell, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker, Don Mattingly, John Franco, John Olerud, Kevin Brown, Dale Murphy, Juan Gonzalez, Harold Baines and Tino Martinez. I was off by five—there are only 14 holdovers, with Harold Baines, John Franco, Kevin Brown, Tino Martinez and John Olerud falling off the ballot.

When looking at the actual percentages, I was off by a bit, as well. For example, I said Fred McGriff was going to get 40.9% of the vote—he really received only 17.9%. I said Rafael Palmeiro was going to receive 23.5% of the vote, while he garnered only 11%. Perhaps most egregiously of all, I said John Olerud was going to receive 13.5% of the vote, when he actually received 0.7%.

Olerud, who finished with 58.2 WAR in 17 seasons, does have a small group of Hall of Fame supporters. (Wikipedia).

I was close on a few, however. For example, I claimed Dale Murphy would get 12.5% of the vote and he actually received 12.6%. As well, I said Larry Walker was going to garner 19.5% of the vote and he received 20.3%. On average, I was about 4.34% off on each person. Now, the percentage difference is a bit more glaring—the average percentage difference between my projected vote totals and the actual vote totals is about 47.21%—that will happen when one predicts John Olerud will get over 10% of the vote and he receives less than 1%.

Finally, to wrap this up, I am going to post who I would have voted for if I were a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. These are in no particular order.

Roberto Alomar
Bert Blyleven
Jeff Bagwell
Barry Larkin
Tim Raines
Lee Smith
Larry Walker
Rafael Palmeiro
Fred McGriff
Dave Parker

I also would have voted for Mark McGwire, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell and potentially Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly and John Franco but a Hall of Fame voter can select a maximum of 10 players. I voted for Palmeiro and not McGwire because the latter already has his cabal of voters, while Palmeiro does not—I wanted to help give Palmeiro a bit of support in his first year of eligibility.

That wraps up another round of Hall of Fame speculation, surprise and—maybe for some—despair. Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will join the already-inducted Pat Gillick at the Hall of Fame induction this summer at Cooperstown.

***

I have since revamped my method for predicting Hall of Fame numbers. Back then, I considered how well statistically similar players performed in the voting, however that obviously does not produce an accurate number. Now I look more at how the player performed in recent elections and how well other players with similar vote totals did in their elections, as well. That produces less wonky results.

Studs and duds: September 10 – September 16

Teoscar Hernandez’s reign ends, but he was just replaced by another Blue Jay.

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). Oh my Lourde, I cannot get over how well the Blue Jays are doing.

And Gurriel is a big part of it—in the past week, he’s slashed .435/.536/.870 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 5 walks in 23 at-bats. The Cuban defector has been a steady, consistent performer since joining Toronto at 24 years old in 2018, hitting .283 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI this year and .285 with 61 home runs and 198 RBI for his career.

The slugger has really ratcheted it up over the past couple months, however, batting .361/.431/.639 with 7 home runs and 36 RBI in 33 games since August 10; the excellent on-base percentage is incredible, as he owns a mediocre .327 mark on the year and for his career. His average is .385 this month and .321 in the second half.

Not bad, not bad. Also not too shabby: His brother. The elder Yuli, of the Astros, is hitting .315 this season after clobbering 31 home runs with 104 RBI in 2019.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays; .481/.533/.815, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R)

Anderson has batted .319 in 282 games since 2019. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Tim Anderson (SS, White Sox). Uh, this is the same Tim Anderson that was an All-Star this year, right? And the one who won a batting crown in 2019? And a Silver Slugger in 2020? Like Gio Urshela before him, the return from the injured list hasn’t been pleasant for Anderson, who in two games has committed 3 errors, while going 2-for-10 with 5 strikeouts at the plate.

Unlike previous duds, this poor sampling is just a blip—Anderson is still batting .300 on the year—and he’ll likely return to his usual self soon. Last month, he hit .315 with a .543 slugging mark.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 2-for-16, 6 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray stays on top after striking out 21 batters to just 2 walks in 11 1/3 innings over his past two starts.

I’ve gone on about Ray plenty in the past, but I have to be cautious. He has all the makings of a one-year wonder: 6.8 of his 15.2 career WAR have come this season alone, while before 2021, he was 49-51 with a 4.26 ERA and 103 ERA+.; this year, he is 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA and 167 ERA+. He’s always been a master of the strikeout, however, as prior to this campaign he averaged 11.1 per nine innings, while his number is 11.8 this year.

I’m not confident Ray will ever duplicate this season. His trajectory is looking a bit like Dallas Keuchel’s—an underwhelming first few years, a Cy Young season in his prime, then a slide into good-very good territory.

Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, 1.50 ERA).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). It is going to be a while before anyone worsts this hurler’s 2 blown saves, 2 losses, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 home run and 6 runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings over the past week.

Despite his recent cold streak, Wells, a 2020 Rule V Draft pick taken from the Twins, has been one of the Orioles’ most-used relievers this season. Appearing in 40 games (fifth-most on the club), he has—despite his 4.17 ERA—been one of its best pitchers, as well. His 112 ERA+ is second among active relief pitchers on the club, behind only Cole Sulser’s 157.

He’s not what I would call a bright spot, but at least he doesn’t make Baltimore fans groan in agony every time he takes the field … unlike the majority of the team.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 16, 2021.

A short one today, without the fun facts and did-you-knows. In fact, I might start splitting them into two different pieces each day.

Lester 200 win watch: Cardinals pitcher Jon Lester can hardly buy a win this year, with just six victories—and 12 total decision—in his 25 starts. However, he did win a very important game last night against the Mets, his 199th,   when he went 6 innings, struck out 7 batters and allowed just 2 earned runs. He’s been on a roll since August 25, posting a 2.12 ERA in 29 2/3 innings; however, he still managed just two victories in those five starts. With 189 under his belt, Max Scherzer is nearly 200 wins, as well.

Cabrera 3,000 hit watch: Uh oh. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is very close to 3,000 hits with 2,976 for his career, but he didn’t make reaching that mark this season any easier by going 0-for-4 against Tampa Bay tonight. He’s 24 away. Detroit has 15 games left.

Valera is heating up: The Blue Jays backup Breyvic Valera, who has one of the coolest names in baseball, has given the club 6 hits, 2 doubles and 8 RBI in 15 at-bats over the past week. Everyone on Toronto’s roster, it seems, appears to be raking right now. I’d love to see the Blue Jays win the World Series.

Don’t worry if I can’t hit: Pirates outfielder Ben Gamel, who has been a complete nonfactor with the bat this past month, managing a measly .224 batting average in 76 at-bats, has still worked a .359 on-base percentage and 11 runs scored thanks to 15 walks. He is hitting .248 on the year, but .257 since joining Pittsburgh in May.

Nabil nails it: Padres reliever Nabil Crismatt, who also has an awesome name, has been one of the best relievers in baseball in the second half. Since July 3, he’s managed a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings over 17 appearances, walking just 5 batters and K-ing 26. The former Mets prospect has a 2.93 ERA in 37 games this season and a 2.97 mark in 43 career appearances.

Reasons for optimism? Slowly, very slowly, the Mets are getting some of their pieces back from the injured list. Utility man Jose Peraza was activated yesterday, while backup catcher Tomas Nido and pitcher Jake Reed rejoined the club on the 14th. They’re all minor cogs on the club, but New York can use any help it can get. They’re 5.5 games out in the NL East and 5 back in the wild card. Everything has to go right from here on out.

Random autograph of the day: Jason LaRue

Jason LaRue was a Reds fixture for many years, spending eight of his 12 major league seasons with the club; He spent 12 of his 16 professional campaigns in their system.

Though blessed with some pop—he hit as many as 16 home runs in a campaign —LaRue was a defense-first backstop. Leading the league in caught stealing percentage and runners caught stealing in 2001, with 60.9 and 42, respectively, his .991 career fielding percentage ranks 88th all-time among catchers, and he four times finished in the top 10 in catcher assists. Twice he was among the top 10 in double plays turned. But he wasn’t without his pitfalls back there— he paced the loop in passed balls thrice and finished second once and third once in errors committed.

He had some defensive versatility, too: He played 8 games at first, 5 in the outfield and 4 at third base; among those 17 non-catcher appearances, 4 were starts. He wrapped up his career with the Cardinals in 2010.

Studs and duds: September 9 – September 15

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Tally another hit and RBI for Hernandez last night. Since September 9, he’s slashed .516/.571/.839 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, meaning that he hasn’t had an average under .500 in any given seven-day span since that ending September 12.

Granted, his week’s performance is heavily weighted by a 5-for-5 game against Tampa Bay on the 13th, as well as a 5 RBI showing against Baltimore the day before. I’ve made the point recently, but it’s worth reiterating: Hernandez’s hot hitting could not have come at a better time. The slugger is a huge reason Toronto is in the thick of the wild card race.

 Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .393/.485/.750, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R).

Despite his anemic career line, Young still owns a decent 109 OPS+. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks). It hasn’t been a pleasant week … or season … or career … for Young, who over the past seven days went 2-for-16 with 6 strikeouts and a couple errors. The infielder has struck out 45 times in 91 at-bats this season and carries a line of .209/.298/.484. His slugging mark is solid as 7 or his 19 hits were doubles, while 6 went over the fence.

Last year, he batted .192 in 26 at-bats; for his career, he’s hitting .205 with 55 Ks in 117 at-bats. Uninspiring though his performance might be, Young is lucky to be in the major leagues at all as he was a 37th round pick in 2016. Such high rounds don’t produce too many big leaguers (he’s the only one from 2016 to reach the majors so far).

 Dishonorable mention: Josh VanMeter (IF, Diamondbacks; 1-for-13, 5 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). So far I’ve counted three Toronto players in this piece that are either studs or honorable mentions. It makes sense the Blue Jays are doing so well right now.

Ray won his 12th game last night, striking out 13 batters and allowing just one run in 7 innings; over the past week, he’s tossed 11 1/3 frames and struck out 21 batters. Even on the 10th, when he lasted less than 5 innings and surrendered 8 hits, 2 walks and 3 earned runs against Baltimore, he still managed 8 Ks.

He has developed into one of the game’s premier strikeout pitchers and now leads the American League in that category with 233; he’s also pacing the loop in ERA (2.64), starts (29), innings pitched (177 1/3), ERA+ (167) and H/9 (6.9). His career 11.3 K/9 ratio is most all-time, but it is trailed closely by Chris Sale and Yu Darvish.

Honorable mention: Nestor Cortes Jr. (SP, Yankees; 12 1/3 IP, 16 K, 2.19 ERA).

Wells debuted with a scoreless inning against Boston on April 4. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). Most struggling teams usually have at least one bright spot. For the Orioles, Wells isn’t it.

The rookie blew both his save opportunities and earned two losses this past week, surrendering 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 1 1/3 innings of work. It sullies what was a decent campaign: Prior to imploding, he hadn’t allowed a run in 11 straight appearances and had brought his season mark down to 3.27.

But with relievers, all it takes is a couple bad outings to ruin a good thing, and that is exactly what happened. Wells’ mark is now up to 4.17, though his K/9 IP ratio is still a solid 10.7. If he can get the long ball under control, he could be a solid pitcher. He’s surrendered 9 home runs in 54 innings this season.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

Article from the archives—31-year-old Amaury Sanit makes major league debut

I wrote this back in 2011, when 31-year-old pitcher Amauri (then spelled Amaury) Sanit made his big league debut with the Yankees. The hurler spent only four games in the majors, but after an escape from Cuba and a rocky road up the minor league ladder, he finally made it.

***

Following his big league stay, Sanit played in the Mexican League. (Wikipedia).

It always tickles my tailbone whenever an “old” career minor leaguer makes his major league debut. These grizzled veterans are the epitome of dedication, never giving up long after many of their younger, fresh-faced counterparts have been promoted to the big leagues and established themselves at that level.

New York Yankees pitcher Amaury Sanit is one such “old guy.” At 31 years old, he was one of only a few tricenarians still toiling in the minor leagues—most guys his age, if they haven’t had a taste of the majors, stop playing by then. But not Sanit.

He made his debut on May 12 against the Kansas City Royals and pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief after starter Ivan Nova struggled. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out two batters (including the very first man he faced, Jeff Francoeur) and though he did not pitch particularly well—he left the game with a 5.79 ERA—he still accomplished what every minor league baseball player dreams of accomplishing—he played in the major leagues.

His story really begins in Cuba, where he was born in 1979. In his native land, Sanit pitched seven seasons, going 25-25 with 58 saves and a 4.11 ERA in the Cuban Serie Nacional. He was a solid pitcher who was one of the better closers of his era.

 In 2003, he made the perilous trek from Cuba to the United States. The Yankees signed him in 2008 and he pitched two games for their Dominican Summer League team—a group comprised of teens and young adults…and one 28-year-old Cuban defector. He moved stateside in 2009 and pitched for three teams and performed well with each—combined, he posted a 3.16 ERA with 10 saves.

Then he got in trouble with the law—the laws governing baseball, that is. During the 2010 season, Sanit was caught using much-maligned performance enhancing drugs, which earned him a 50 game suspension. For a 30-year-old minor leaguer, such an event can be the death knell for a professional career.

Not for Sanit, however. He bounced back from his transgression and pitched well to start the 2011 minor league season, winning two games and striking out 24 batters in 16 1/3 innings.

And then he got the call that 100 percent of all minor leaguers yearn for, but only a small percentage receive. Amaury Sanit, after years of playing baseball in various countries all over the world, is now a major leaguer.

***

Sanit allowed 10 earned runs in 7 big league innings, giving him a 12.86 ERA.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 15, 2021.

Miguel Cabrera 3,000 hit watch: Add another hit to his ledger. With a double against the Brewers today, the 38-year-old now has 2,976 hits for his career and is just 24 away from 3,000. He’s hitting .412 this month and the Tigers have 16 games left in the season. He might pull it off.

Greinke has six 200 strikeout campaigns. (Wikipedia).

Greinke 3,000 K watch: I was going to start paying close attention to Astros pitcher Zack Greinke’s run for 3,000 strikeouts when he reached 2,800, and he did that with a 4 K performance against Texas on Tuesday. He now stands at 2,803 for his career and at 37, should comfortably reach the magic number. However, the milestone might have to wait until 2023, if his trend toward diminished strikeout totals holds true into next season.

Living up to his nickname: Tigers jack-of-all-trades Harold Castro is nicknamed Hittin’ Harold … and these past couple weeks show us why. Since August 29, he’s hit .359 with a .590 slugging percentage to bring his season average to .282. Though he’s never played a full season, he’s shown he can make good contact, batting .291 for his career and .347 in 49 at-bats last year.

Out of the Ruf patch: Giants utility man Darin Ruf began the season with a .240 average through July 3. Since then, he has hit .309/.423/.588 with 9 home runs, 26 RBI, 25 walks and 20 runs scored in 56 games. Since August 16, his average is .321 and his OBP is .446. Those three years (2017-2019) he spent in Korea taught him to be more patient at the plate—from 2012 to 2016, his big league OBP was .314. Between 2020 and 2021, it is .392.

Senzatela’s pitching well: If you go by his won-loss record, it has been a rough year for Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela. In 24 games, he’s gone 4-9, while averaging nearly 10 hits allowed per 9 innings. But over his past five starts, his ERA is just 2.18 and batters are hitting .200 against. And his year has been better than it looks—he still holds a 116 ERA+.

Ryan’s got potential: Twins rookie starter Joe Ryan has impressed through his first three big league starts, posting a 2.12 ERA and 0.529 WHIP in 17 innings; over his past two starts, he’s allowed just one run, one walk and 4 hits in 12 frames. He was acquired from the Rays in the trade that sent DH Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay. Looks like the deal is already starting to pay off.

Seager ranks 19th among active players in career doubles with 302. (Wikipedia).

Milestone watch: Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager recently hit his 300th double, while Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez stole his 150th base.

Meeker is a master: With the independent Steel City Slammin’ Sammies in 2020, pitcher James Meeker made 8 scoreless relief appearances. That was just a prelude to what he was going to do in 2021. Twirling for the independent Washington Wild Things, the righthander pitched in 30 games, tossed 31 2/3 innings … and didn’t surrender a run, earned or otherwise. The Brewers signed him on August 13; in 11 games in their system, he has a 1.69 ERA. Meeker can hit, too. With the Butler Blue Sox, a collegiate summer team, in 2016, he hit .402. The next year, he batted .357.

Escaped death by two minutes: Former Marlins and Reds manager Jack McKeon nearly died while in the minor leagues in 1950. Following a knee injury, his club ordered him home to recuperate—but he missed his scheduled train by two minutes. That train crashed, killing 33 people.

Not even one win: According to Baseball Reference, 19 big league managers didn’t manage a single victory in their careers. The worst of them were the Washington Nationals’ Joe Miller and the Brooklyn Eckfords’ Jim Clinton, who both skippered in the National Association in 1872. They each went 0-11.

Speaking of the 1872 Nationals: They folded after those 11 games, meaning their winning percentage was .000. 19-year-old pitcher Bill Stearns took every loss, starting and completing each game. They lost their first game of the year 21-1. One of their “primary” outfielders, Ed Mincher, batted .094; another, Sy Studley, batted .095. Their starting nine also featured a 16-year-old, shortstop Jacob Young, and a 17-year-old, first baseman Paul Hines. Hines spent 20 years in the majors, batting .302.

And about the Eckfords: The Brooklyn Eckfords went just 3-26 in 1872. They were shutout 20-0 in their second game of the season and, in one four game stretch, were outscored 113-24. On June 22, they lost 36-6. One pitcher, James McDermott, struck out just one batter in 63 innings. A fellow named Martin Malone hit .375 for them in 16 at-bats. But that’s about all we know about the guy—no biographical data exists for him.

The Eckford moniker: Brooklyn was named after a shipbuilder named Henry Eckford, who was born in Scotland, lived in New York, and died in the Ottoman Empire.

Only been one: You’d think “Jackrabbit” would be an appropriate and oft-used nickname—especially in baseball’s early days—given to speedy ballplayers. Not so. There’s been just one in big league history, Jack “Jackrabbit” Gilbert, who played briefly in 1898 and 1904.

Ty Cobb committed 271 errors.

Hall of Famers aren’t perfect: Only five outfielders in the modern era (1901-present) committed 200 or more errors. Four are Hall of Famers: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Goose Goslin and Max Carey. The fifth, Clyde Milan, earned votes in seven elections.

The good stuff came first and last: In-between his first and last seasons, pitcher Jim Turner pitched seven campaigns and was 46-45 with a 3.45 ERA. In his rookie season, 1937, he won 20 games and led the league with a 2.48 ERA, 24 complete games and 5 shutouts. In his final year, 1945, he paced the loop in saves, with 10.

Studs and duds, September 8 – September 14

I believe this is the first time all the Studs and Duds from the day previous return. As all have been covered before—multiple times—there is not too much to say this time around.

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Hernandez is unstoppable. Over the past week, he has hit .533/.611/.867 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, powering the Blue Jays in this most important stretch of the season. An All-Star this year and a Silver Slugger in 2020, the outfielder is hitting .307/.357/.529 with 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games on the year; he ranks fifth in the American League in RBI. Since 2017, he has averaged 35 home runs, 98 RBI and 90 runs scored per 162 games. Hmm, a late-blooming power hitting outfielder in Toronto. Shades of Jose Bautista, anyone?

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .429/.529/.857, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 10 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela is on fire! With two hits yesterday, he is now 4-for-18 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days. His September batting average was raised to .192, while his mark since rejoining the Yankees in late August is up to .149. That still sounds pretty rough. And Urshela is still the Dud.

Dishonorable mention: Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, 0-for-10, 5 K).

Alcantara began his career with the Cardinals, but was traded to Miami, with others, for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). Alcantara was so awesome lately, no one dared usurp him. And with his recent resume including a complete game, a win, 21 strikeouts, just one walk and 5 hits allowed, a 0.53 ERA and a .091 opponents’ batting average, that would’ve been hard to do. Though his record is just 9-13 this season, he owns a 133 ERA+ and a 137 mark over the past two years. That makes Alcantara a pitcher to watch. If he can ever get out of Miami and join a winning club, he could blossom into a superstar.

Honorable mention: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays; 11 IP, 18 K, 2.45 ERA, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals).Baldonado pitched a scoreless inning for Washington last night, earning a hold, but it wasn’t enough for the hurler to redeem himself. It’s tough for a relief pitcher to unbury himself from a blown save, a loss, a couple walks, a couple earned runs allowed and a 10.80 ERA in the span of a week. His ERA on the year, however, is still a solid 2.84.

Dishonorable mention: Jeurys Familia (RP, Mets; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 HR, 1 BSV, 1 L).

He’s a future star! Just look at his first season! (Or, maybe not.)—pt. 4.

In this, the fourth installment of this series, I expanded the definition of ‘great’ first full seasons to include those that were at the very least promising. Let’s take a look at some more players from the past 20 or so years who started off well, but never quite lived up to what we expected.

Rogers owns 141 home runs at all levels. (Wikipedia).

Former Brewers first baseman Jason Rogers’ ascension to the major leagues took a while, as he didn’t debut until he was 26 or play his first (nearly) full campaign until he was 27. The 2010 32nd-round draft pick hit .301 at Single-A in 2012, but by then he was already 24; likewise, his 22 home runs at Double-A the next year don’t look so impressive, as he was older than the average player in his league.

But the production followed him wherever he went. In his first try at Triple-A in 2014, he hit .316 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI in 57 games. The Brewers promoted him in September, but he had just one hit in eight at-bats.

Though he began 2015 with Milwaukee, he hit just .236 through June 30. The Brewers sent him to the minors for more Triple-A experience but he proved he was experienced enough—in 33 games with Colorado Springs, Rogers slashed .344/.449/.607 with 8 home runs and 24 RBI in 33 games. The production could not be denied, so Milwaukee called him back up in August.

And that month was also rough, as he hit just .235 in 17 at-bats. But an otherworldly September in which he slashed .435/.500/.630 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 20 hits in 46 ABs saved his season … and his batting line. On the back of that killer run, he hit .296/.367/.441 in 169 at-bats over 86 games that year.

With his stock high, the Brewers traded him to Pittsburgh for outfielder Keon Broxton and minor league pitcher Trey Supak in the offseason. The change of scenery wasn’t to his benefit.

With his first hit a triple, his 2016 campaign started off promising—but from that point on, he hit .045 in 22 at-bats. He spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he hit just .263. Partway through the next year, the Pirates released him so he could play in Japan. He hit .283 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI in  49 games there.

But his performance drew no major league interest. He joined the independent ranks in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and even spent time in Australia, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Now 33, he hit .295 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI for the indy Gastonia Honey Hunters this season.

Smith was 11-11, 3.84 in his career. (Wikipedia).

Like Rogers, former Marlins pitcher Chuck Smith was an old rookie—a really old rookie, as he debuted at 30 years of age.

Undrafted out of Indiana State University, he was signed by the Astros and began the snaillike trudge up the minor league ranks. Through 1995, he had pitched just 6 innings above Single-A; that year, he was 10-10 with a 2.69 ERA, but was also nearly 3.5 years older than the average player in his league. He was in the White Sox system by that point, having been taken in the Rule V Draft.

He reached Triple-A for the first time in 1996—for a single game—then went 0-3, 8.81 at that level in 1997. Chicago ditched him and he spent most of 1998 in indy ball, with a couple games in Taiwan and a handful in Mexico. Texas signed him for depth in 1999—when he was 29 years old—and kept him at Triple-A through the beginning of 2000.

To fill out a pitching staff that included, at that point, uninspiring names like A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Reid Cornelius and Jesus Sanchez, the Marlins traded for him on June 9 in exchange for outfielder Brant Brown.

By June 13, he was starting for Florida and through July 5, he had a 2.76 ERA in 5 starts. He finished the season by going 5-2 with a 2.71 ERA through his final 9 games. On the year, he was 6-6 with a 3.23 ERA in 19 starts; in 122 2/3 innings, he had 118 strikeouts and allowed just 6 home runs. The Marlins were 64-98 in 1999—in part because of Smith’s great pitching, they were able to improve to 79 victories in 2000. He tied Juan Pierre and Lance Berkman for sixth place in Rookie of the Year voting.

And he began 2001 equally well, tossing 8 innings of one run ball in his first start on May 6 and carrying a 3-0, 2.83 line through his first 35 innings. From that point forward, however, his mark was 5.94; on the year, he was 5-5 with a 4.70 ERA in 15 starts. That was his final big league season.

The Rockies purchased him in March 2002, then he bounced around Triple-A for a few years before playing in Korea in 2005 and Taiwan again in 2006 to wrap up his career.

Though technically still active, relief pitcher Robert Stock has yet to live up to the promise he exhibited with San Diego as a 28-year-old rookie in 2018.

It’s unlikely teams will invest in this Stock in 2022. (Wikipedia).

Like Rogers and Smith, his trek to the majors was long and winding. Drafted as a catcher by the Cardinals in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft, ahead of DJ LeMahieu and Patrick Corbin, Stock struggled at the dish in A-ball and converted to pitching. It didn’t save him—he was released by St. Louis in December 2014 and signed with Pittsburgh.

After a poor year between three teams in their system, he was let go and joined the indy ranks, where he had a 2.85 ERA and 11.0 K/9 IP ratio in 52 relief appearances for the New Jersey Jackals. The Reds signed him for 2017 but kept him in their organization for just a year.

San Diego gave Stock a shot, inking him to a contract for 2018. Now in his tenth professional season, he reached Triple-A for the first time, but he wasn’t in the minors long—the Padres promoted him and on June 24, he made his big league debut.

Though he initially had a rough go of it—he surrendered 4 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in his 5th appearance—the hurler settled down and posted a 1.50 ERA in 27 games the rest of the way; in 36 innings, he allowed just 26 hits and had 32 strikeouts. On the year, he had a 2.50 ERA and 155 ERA+ in 32 appearances. Both marks were among the best on that 66-96 team.

But he fell apart soon after. In 10 relief appearances in 2019, he had a 10.13 ERA; in 2020, his mark was 4.73 with Boston. And this year, he has posted an 0-2 record and 8.00 ERA in 3 starts between the Cubs and Mets.

And as he is currently on the 60-day injured list with hamstring issues, that might be it for Stock. His chances of returning this season are slim and whether any team takes a flier on him in 2022 is up in the air—though unlikely.

In the three years since his excellent, though abbreviated, campaign with San Diego, he has pitched for four teams and gone 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA in 23 games (3 starts). In 33 innings, he’s allowed 27 walks, 40 hits and 5 home runs. Not very inspiring.

But, then again, what do you expect. Stock, and Rogers and Smith, beat the odds by reaching the major leagues at their advanced ages. Then they beat the odds by having unexpectedly excellent seasons.

They all wilted as quickly as they bloomed. You can beat the odds only so much.