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.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 10, 2021.

Miguel Cabrera 3,000 hit watch: As I write this, the Tigers have already played today and Miguel Cabrera managed a couple more hits. He now has 2,973 on the year and is just 27 away from 3,000 for his career. Detroit has 20 games left. It’ll be close.

Baseball Prospectus ranked Adell baseball’s #2 prospect in 2019 and 2020. (Wikipedia).

Here comes Adell: Angels phenom Jo Adell impressed no one in his first big league stint in 2020, when he batted just .161 in 124 at-bats. Call them rookie jitters. Over the past week, the top prospect is hitting .450 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI and 4 runs scored. Los Angeles has not impressed this season, posting a 69-71 record thus far … but Adell gives them hope for the future.

Pillar of success: Every time the Mets seem like they are done, something—or someone—crops up that gives me a little more hope. This time, it’s outfielder Kevin Pillar. Since August 28, he’s slashed .355/.444/.806 with 4 home runs, 10 RBI and 8 runs scored. Its been a rough season for Pillar, who’s hitting just .222 overall and who was clocked in the face by a pitch earlier this year.

Don’t mess with Nestor: Yankees hurler Nestor Cortes Jr. has worked in the shadow of Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole this year, but his performance has been excellent. His season began in relief on June 4 and through July 9, he worked a 1.05 ERA in 22 innings; since then he has started all but one game and posted a mark of 3.59, but that is under control—over his past 5 starts, his ERA is 2.70.

Props to Woodford: Cardinals pitcher Jake Woodford didn’t have an effective first part of the season, carrying a 5.08 ERA through July 31. Demoted to Triple-A Memphis in early August, the righthander returned earlier this month and has performed like an ace. In two starts since returning, he has 8 strikeouts and just 2 walks allowed in 9 1/3 innings of work; his ERA was 0.96 and batters hit .161 against him.

Flick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963. (Wikipedia).

Two triples, twice in a row: Since 1901, the only player to hit 2 or more triples in a game twice in a row was Hall of Famer Elmer Flick. He did it with the Indians on July 6 and 7, 1903. The record for most consecutives games with at least one triple belongs to the Pirates Owen Wilson, who had 6 in 5 games from June 17 to June 20, 1912. He had 36 that year, a record. The Red Sox Nomar Garciaparra worked a triple 4 games in a row from May 31 to June 4, 2003; he was the most recent player to do that.

A single, a double and a triple: Instances of players hitting a single, double, and triple in consecutive games aren’t exceptionally rare. Since 1901, it has happened 27 times. But since 2000, it’s occurred just twice: By Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki on May 12 and 13, 2001—his rookie year!—and by the Brewers Alex Sanchez on April 13 and 14, 2003. For a while there, it was a feat of the elites: from 1949 to 1967, the only players to do it were Stan Musial (1949), Brooks Robinson (1960), Roberto Clemente (1965) and Pete Rose (1967).

The feared men: Not surprisingly, Barry Bonds holds the record for most games in a row with at least one intentional walk, with 6. In that span, which ran from April 28 to May 7, 2004, he had the wonky totals of 13 at-bats, 15 walks, a .231 batting average and a .643 on-base percentage. Four players have drawn IBBs five games in a row—Tim Raines in 1987, Will Clark in 1988, Bonds in 2002 and Juan Soto last year. Bonds drew an intentional walk four games in a row nine times.

Led in everything, but … Ty Cobb led the league in just about everything at least once. Major categories he never paced the loop in: Games played, plate appearances, walks, strikeouts, hit by pitches and sacrifice flies. He had over 700 plate appearances twice, in 1915 and 1924, but finished second in the league both times.

Not even once: The all-time leader in sacrifice hits is Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, who had 512 in his career—120 more than anyone else. Yet, he never led the league in that category and placed second just once, in 1923.

It’s fitting: Babe Ruth’s first home run, hit on May 6, 1915 when he was with the Red Sox, came against hurler Jack Warhop, a career Yankee. Warhop also surrendered Ruth’s second home run less than a month later.

Gibson managed the Diamondbacks from 2010 to 2014, leading them to the postseason in 2011. (Wikipedia).

MVP, but not an All-Star: 1988 National League Most Valuable Player Kirk Gibson never made an All-Star team—in 1988 or otherwise. That’s quite astonishing, as he earned MVP votes three other times and finished with five 20-20 campaigns.

In common: What do Mickey Lolich, Tris Speaker and Max Lanier have in common? All three were natural right-handers, but switched to being lefties after suffering childhood injuries like broken arms.

Football hero: Dutch Meyer spent six years in the big leagues, mostly in the ‘40s, hitting .264 in 286 games. Though he later became a successful minor league manager, leading his clubs to two league championships, he is largely forgotten. Expect, perhaps, to Texas Christian University football fans. As their kicker in the 1936 Sugar Bowl, he kicked the winning field goal, helping the school best Louisiana State University with a baseball-esque score of 3-2.

Move over, Joe: In 1894, Chicago Colts shortstop/third baseman Bill Dahlen hit safely in 70 of 71 games. He ran a streak of 42 straight, then went hitless in game 43, then hammered out another run of 28 games with hits.

Moncallo passes away: Bernie Moncallo, who managed in the Brewers minor league system in the mid-1990s despite never playing professionally, passed away September 3 at 65.