Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 11, 2021.

Hader took part in two no-hitters in the minor leagues. (Wikipedia).

Brewers no-hitter: As I write this, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader combined for the ninth no-hitter of 2021, blanking the Cleveland Indians. Sixteen Indians struck out, including three men who Ked thrice. This reminds me of that span from 2009 t0 2012 when six perfect games were thrown, including three in 2012 alone—people thought that was the end of the perfect game as a rarity, but there haven’t been any since. I’m thinking this crazy year might be an anomaly rather than the new normal, as well.

Rengifo’s nice run: Angels utilityman Luis Rengifo has had an inauspicious first few seasons in the major leagues, hitting .238 in 2019, posting a 32 OPS+ last year and slashing .180/.219/.280 this season. But everyone has a hot streak eventually. Over the past few days, he’s hit .357 with a home run and a couple runs scored.

Who needs Arenado: Edmundo Sosa, the Cardinals 25-year-old infielder, hit just .242 through the end of July. Since then, he’s batted .364/.433/.584 with 14 runs scored and 14 RBI in 77 at-bats. In the same stretch, St. Louis’ star third baseman Nolan Arenado has hit .212 with a .267 on-base percentage.

Kinley’s killing it: Rockies relief pitcher Tyler Kinley’s season ERA of 4.83 won’t wow anyone, but that he’s gotten it down from his 6.20 mark on August 7 might. Since that date, when he gave up 4 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning against the Marlins, he’s posted a 0.61 ERA in 13 appearances, striking out 19 batters in 14 2/3 innings.

This isn’t the Enn: Rays hurler Dietrich Enns made some headlines when he was in the Yankees system back in the day due to his excellent minor league numbers. From 2o12 to 2017, his season ERAs were, respectively: 2.11, 2.94, 1.42, 0.61, 1.73 and 2.05. He finally reached the majors in 2017 with Minnesota; in 4 innings, he allowed 7 hits and had a 6.75 ERA. And that looked like it for Enns, who struggled in the minors in 2018 and 2019. But the Rays picked him up this year and he returned to the majors on August 7. It’s not much, but among his appearances, he’s had two 3-inning scoreless outings since his return to the show.

 Always a thief: Rickey Henderson holds the record for most consecutive seasons with at least one stolen base at 25. Ty Cobb and Omar Vizquel had a steal in 24 straight campaigns.

Had Gwynn’s number: Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn mastered nearly every pitcher he faced. Against Greg Maddux, he batted .429; against John Smoltz, he hit .462. Who, more than anyone, had Gwynn’s number? Omar Olivares, who went 77-86 with a 4.67 ERA in 12 seasons, held the eight-time batting champ to a .120 mark in 25 at-bats against him.

All singles: On July 10, 1932, against the Athletics, Cleveland’s Johnny Burnett set the record for most hits in a game with 9. It was an 18-inning affair that Philadelphia won 18-17. The most hits in a game where all the knocks were singles is 6; it’s happened 18 times since 1901, with Jean Segura, then of the Brewers, most recently doing it against Minnesota on May 28, 2013.

Three triples: The three players to hit three or more triples in a game since 2000 are Rafael Furcal (April 21, 2002), Denard Span (June 29, 2010) and Yasiel Puig (July 25, 2014). It usually happens a couple times per decade, but no one did it in the 1940s.

Brain led the NL with 10 home runs in 1907. (Wikipedia).

Brain’s legs carried him: England-native Dave Brain is the only player since 1901 to hit three triples in a game twice in his career. What’s more, they came in the same season, 1905.

Shot Heard ‘Round the World: Most baseball fans know about this dinger, when the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson clobbered a walk-off, pennant-winning home run, off the Dodgers’ Ralph Branca on October 3, 1951. We know the main characters in this saga—Thomson, Branca—but who was the Brooklyn leftfielder who watched forlornly as the ball sailed over his head into the stands? Andy Pafko, who spent only a year-and-a-half with the club.

Middle East represent: While playing for the Padres, second baseman Craig Stansberry became the first man born in the Middle East to debut in the major leagues when he pinch hit for Rob Mackowiak on August 25, 2007. Born in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, he spent parts of three years in the big leagues and collected 8 hits in 24 at-bats. Pitcher Jeff Bronkey, born in Afghanistan, debuted in 1993, but Afghanistan is technically not  part of the Middle East.

Mark Reynolds hit .236 for his career. (Wikipedia).

Who needs a high average: Most total bases in a season by a batter with an average of less than .200? 216, by Mark Reynolds in 2010. That year, he hit .198.

What a nickname: Manuel Garcia was a Negro league pitcher of the 1920s and 1930s who had the unusual nickname of Cocaina (cocaine). Supposedly, batters seemed almost drugged by his pitches and unable to concentrate on the baseball. According the legendary Buck O’Neil, “he had a wicked curve ball which made all us hitters go numb.” Despite what O’Neil says, the story behind his moniker sounds almost apocryphal, but it’s an interesting tale, nevertheless.

What a deal: You might recall the tale of John Odom, the independent league pitcher was who was traded for ten new baseball bats in 2008. That’s not the first oddball trade in indy league history. In 1996, first baseman Andre Keene was traded partway through the year for cash … and a Muddy Waters album.

8 wins, 4 days: In 1953, minor league hurler Eddie Locke pitched complete games in both ends of a doubleheader four times … and won each game. Though he never played in the major leagues, he was an excellent pitcher, winning twenty-plus games 3 times and 176 for his career.

Perfect baseball name: Tommy Toledo might be the perfect baseball name. It belonged to a relief pitcher who played in the Brewers system from 2011 to 2014. He peaked at Double-A.

Max Muncy’s 2019 was pretty unusual (introducing the Muncy Ratio).

Max Muncy, the father of the Muncy Ratio. (Wikipedia).

Slugging infielder Max Muncy doesn’t match up with some of the names who have done it, but in 2019 he achieved a thrice-in-a-decade feat.

That year, he had 122 hits and crossed the plate 101 times, an astonishing hit-to-run ratio of 1.21, which was accomplished by only two other players in the 2010s (minimum 100 hits).

In 2011, Curtis Granderson scored 136 runs on 153 hits and in 2017, Aaron Judge scored 128 runs on 154 hits. Since 1950, the Muncy Ratio, as we’ll call it, happened just 25 times, and only 46 times since 1900.

But, historically, it isn’t rare. In the small ball, high-steal, often wonky days of  19th century baseball, it happened 114 times. Ross Barnes did it first in 1873, when he had 125 runs on just 138 hits, then he did it again in 1876, with 126 runs and 138 hits.

In 1884 Billy Hamilton, the renowned speedster, had 198 runs on 225 hits, and Hall of Famer King Kelly nearly hit the magic ratio of 1:1 in 1885, scoring 124 runs on 126 hits.

If a Hall of Famer couldn’t do it, some lesser names could. Emmett Seery—whose claim to fame still hasn’t been established nearly a century-and-a-half later—scored 104 runs and had the same number of hits for the long-since forgotten Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887.

Honestly, if we were discussing this feat in the 1800s, no one would be impressed. Eight men scored more runs than had hits between 1884 and 1890 alone. George Gore did it twice. Seery’s accomplishment is unique, sure, but the Muncy Ratio—the very reason for this article!—eh, it’d be nothing to write home about about.

Harry Stovey achieved the Ratio more than anybody. (Wikipedia).

Harry Stovey managed it eight times, including four years in a row. Bid McPhee, a Hall of Famer, and George Gore—who should be in the Hall if you ask the right folks—did it five times each. Even Tom BrownTom who??—did it four times.

Then the 20th century dawned. The Ratio, which was achieved eight times from 1895 to 1899, didn’t occur again until 1911—it happened four times that decade, and Donie Bush owns two of its instances.

It saw a resurgence in the high-flying 1920s and 1930s, occurring 15 times. Of course Babe Ruth accomplished it, three times in fact, but so did Oscar Charleston and Cool Papa Bell, twice, each. In 1930, Max Bishop, known for being a walks machine, was the first player to score more runs than have hits in a season since 1890. That year, he trotted home 117 times on just 111 hits. He was also the last player to manage a hit-to-run ratio of less than one-to-one.

As offenses came down to earth, the mark again became a rarity. Only two men did it in the 1940s, none in the 1950s, two in the 1960s and one in the 1970s, with Jim Wynn the only man to do it that decade. He also achieved it in 1969.

Rickey Henderson and Eric Davis tried to bring the trend back in the 1980s and it worked, sort of. Both did it twice, and Henderson did it five times overall.

As the game became offensive again in the 1990s, it saw an uptick in the hit-run phenomenon. It was achieved six times by four players in that ten-year span.

Then 2000s Barry Bonds happened. With hurlers pitching around him at record rates, he was getting on base with superhuman frequency—and, with guys like Jeff Kent batting behind him, scoring a lot. He accomplished the feat four times in a five year span, but still doesn’t own the most impressive season of those who did it that decade: In 2000, Jeff Bagwell led the league with 152 runs scored on just 183 hits.

While nearly all the players who reach the Ratio rank as very good-to-great and have or had All-Star potential, sometimes a total outlier crops up and joins the club. In 2005, David Dellucci did just that, scoring 97 runs on just 109 hits. It was one of only two seasons in which he had 100-plus knocks.

And here we are today. Max Muncy was the last player to reach the ratio he established, and though he’s managed it just once, he’s gotten close in other years, as well. In 2018, he had a hit-to-run ratio of 1.41-to-1. This year, he’s at 1.31. And last year, had he played a full season, he would have bested the Muncy Ratio with a mark of 1.08.

Fernando Tatis, Jr. is on the verge of qualifying for the Muncy Ratio. (Wikipedia).

There are a few factors that allow for the phenomenon to unfold. Drawing walks is key—58 of those who achieved it had on-base percentages of .400 or better when they did. Speed helps, too, especially for those who hit a lot of singles or don’t have a good eye at the plate. Sixty-nine of the players who achieved the Muncy Ratio had stolen at least 40 bases.

Home runs contribute. By dint of what they are they achieve a H:R ratio of 1:1 each time they’re hit. And triples, they’re not quite home runs, but they get a player as close to scoring as possible without going all around the bases. Sixty-two of those who managed the Ratio had 10 or more when they did it.

And most importantly, batters need other solid hitters in the lineup to drive them in—a triple is only a run scored if someone else pokes one into the outfield or himself hits a big fly. Otherwise, it’s a wasted opportunity.

Sure, it’s a novelty, the Muncy Ratio. But those who achieve it, in the 21st century at least, are in fairly rare territory. And though the club’s membership might expand by two this year, with Fernando Tatis, Jr. (98 H, 83 R) and Joey Gallo (81 H, 70 R) right at its doorstep, do recall—

It’s a group neither Willie Mays, nor Joe DiMaggio, nor Frank Robinson, nor Hank Aaron, nor Ken Griffey, Jr., nor Lou Brock, nor Ty Cobb ever managed to joined.