Wednesday, July 27, 2011

C.C. Sabathia, Ron Guidry, Cy Young and 18 Strikeouts

My son and I attended last night’s Yankees-Mariners game and were treated to a gem of a game. C.C. Sabathia continued on his march to another dominating season. In between a few rain delays, Sabathia utterly dominated the Mariners. Sabathia took a perfect game into the 7th inning fanning 14 Mariners while allowing only 1-hit and 3-walks leading the Yankees to a 4-1 victory. This loss was the 17th straight defeat for the Mariners tying the 1926 Boston Red Sox, 1962 Mets, and 1977 Atlanta Braves with 17 losses in a row. This leaves the Mariners four losses short of the American League record of 21 straight losses currently held by the 1988 Baltimore Orioles and six losses shy of the Major League record 23 straight losses held by the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies. But I digress, back to Sabathia and the Yankees.

With his victory last night, Sabathia is 15-5 with a 2.56 ERA with 3 complete games and 1 shutout in 23 games started. Sabathia has struck out 156 while walking only 45 and allowing 143 hits for a WHIP of 1.15. It’s a shame that Sabathia will probably be overlooked for Cy Young consideration once again. Many of the voters have the misconception that since Sabathia pitches for the Yankees he’s expected to win. As if winning games day in and day out playing on the Yankees is a given. Sure, Sabathia (and every other Yankees starter) is given one of the best lineups in baseball batting behind him but he still has to go out and do the job which in the last three seasons with the Yankees he’s done so at the tune of a 55-20 record. Not to say that the other Cy Young candidates such as Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver aren’t deserving of consideration, but it just seems that Sabathia doesn’t get the accolades he deserves when it comes to Cy Young voting while he plays on the Yankees. We’ll see how it plays out at the end of the season.

In total, three Yankees pitchers (Sabathia, Robertson and Rivera) struck out a total of 18 Mariners tying the franchise record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game. This performance tied the achievement of another Yankees ace. The franchise record was set in 1978 against the California Angels. On June 17, 1978 Ron Guidry struck out 18 California Angels leaving him one strikeout behind the then Major League record of 19 strikeouts which was then held by five players (Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Hugh Daily and Charlie Sweeney). The current record is 20 strikeouts in a 9-inning game and his held by Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens (who achieved the feat twice). During a tumultuous 1978 season for the New York Yankees, Guidry was the constant bright spot for the team. Guidry led the league with a 25-3 record with a 1.78 ERA in 273.2 innings pitched with 16 complete games and 9 shutouts in 35 games. He struck out 248 while walking 72 and allowing 187 hits for a WHIP of 0.946. Guidry was a dominating constant in a season where the Yankees overcame the distractions of internal squabbling and managerial turmoil.

The Yankees had three different managers that season (Billy Martin, Dick Howser and Bob Lemon) and were 14.5 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox in July. By the end of the season, the Yankees were able to tie the Boston Red Sox for first place forcing a one game playoff in Boston which was capped by Bucky Dent’s 3-run homerun for a 5-4 victory and the AL East title. The Yankees would defeat their league nemesis the Kansas City Royals in four games in the AL Championship Series and would defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the 75th World Series. For his part, Guidry would win the AL Cy Young Award unanimously with all 28 first place votes.

Fast forwarding to today from 1978, can C.C. Sabathia continue his dominating season and possibly join Ron Guidry as Yankees pitchers to win the Cy Young? We’ll have to wait until after October to find that out. Until then, I’ll just have to keep watching the big guy game in and game out. On a separate little side note, is there anyone out there that still thinks that the Yankees overpaid for Sabathia?


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for C.C. Sabathia's career statistics from
- Click Here for Ron Guidry's career statistics from
- Click Here to access the List of Major League Baseball pitchers with 18 strikeouts or more in one game from
- Click Here to access the five longest losing streaks in MLB during the last 50 years from the article Daily list: Long baseball losing streaks dated July 25, 2011 from the Detroit Free Press website

Friday, July 22, 2011

Alfonso Soriano and How the Mighty Have Fallen

In March of 2010 I wrote a post on my Latinoball blog site called ¿Que Le Paso a Alfonso Soriano?. In this post, I reference an article that I had read from the Washington Post, which basically said that the Chicago Cubs did not get what they paid for in Soriano. Here the Cubs are left with four years on his contract at the sum of $18 million per year until 2014. With Soriano currently batting .249 with 14HR and 41 RBI with 76 strikeouts and only 16 walks it seems that the Cubs are willing to eat a significant part of Soriano’s contract in order to move him.

Mike Axisa of states in his article Cubs Willing To Eat High Percentage Of Soriano's Deal that based on sources the Cubs would be:

"willing to absorb a high percentage" of the money left on his deal if the right trade offer came along. There is more than $60M left on his eight-year, $136MM contract.

Soriano also has a full no-trade clause that unbeknown to him was included in his contract. In an interview with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Gordon Wittenmyer Soriano had the following to say about waiving his no-trade clause:

"If it was a contender, yes," Soriano said of waiving the no-trade. "Of course, I want to win. I want to win here. But if not here, then somewhere else. . . .First of all, I don’t want to leave here. I want to stay here because we’ve got to win it. But if they want to trade me, I think the team they would want to trade me to would be a contender that I could help."

If the last few seasons are an indication, the Chicago Cubs will not be winning anything anytime soon. Discarding players like Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano and rebuilding the team around players such as Starlin Castro might be the way to go.

It seems that at the age of 35, (yes Yankees fans, it has been 10 seasons since Soriano almost won the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a homerun against Curt Schilling in the 6th inning of Game 7) that Soriano’s best days might be behind him. A future in the AL as a potential DH and occasional outfield replacement might be his best bet.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Alfonso Soriano's career statistics from

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pumpsie Green and July 21, 1959

It was on today's date in 1959 that the Boston Red Sox brought up a switch hitting infield utility player of the name of Elijah Jerry "Pumpsie" Green. Why is the promotion of a switch hitting utility player during 1959 something of importance? With the promotion of Green to the Major Leagues, all 16 teams of Major League Baseball had now been integrated. Starting with the signing of Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers on August 28, 1945 (and his becoming the first black player to cross the color barrier on April 15, 1947) it took twelve years for all 16 teams to have at least one black player. Now I say black rather than African American since if you look at the list of the first players to integrate the 16 teams, not all of them were African American:

Brooklyn Dodgers – Jackie Robinson (1947)
Cleveland Indians – Larry Doby (1947)
St. Louis Browns – Hank Thompson (1947)
New York Giants – Hank Thompson (1949)
Boston Braves – Sam Jethroe (1950)
Chicago White Sox – Minnie Minoso (1951)
Philadelphia Athletics – Bob Trice (1953)
Chicago Cubs – Ernie Banks (1953)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Curt Roberts (1954)
St. Louis Cardinals – Tom Alston (1954)
Cincinnati Reds – Nino Escalera (1954)
Washington Senators – Carlos Paula (1954)
New York Yankees – Elston Howard (1955)
Philadelphia Phillies – John Kennedy (1957)
Detroit Tigers – Ozzie Virgil (1958)
Boston Red Sox – Pumpsie Green (1959)

Four of them were from Latin America (If you want to know more about these players, you can click here: Black Latino Pioneers from my Latinoball blog page). Back to Green.

Green's first appearance came as a pinch runner against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 2011. His role would normally be that of a defensive infield replacement and pinch runner for the four years (1959-1962) he played with the Red Sox. Green would play his last season with the New York Mets in 1963.

Green's best season was in 1961 when in 88 games he batted .260 with 57 hits (12 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR) and 27 RBI in 219 at-bats. Green walked 42 times while striking out 32 times and stealing 4 out of 6 bases. 

The promotion of Green in 1959 casts a negative light on the Red Sox not due to Green himself, but that it took so long for the team to integrate. This could have been avoided on two earlier occasions if the airs of racial intolerance had not permeated the Boston Red Sox. The first time was in April of 1945 when under pressure of the removal of their Sunday day permit allowing the team to play Baseball by local City Councilor Isadore Muchnick, the Red Sox held a tryout for three African American players. One was Marvin Williams. The second was Sam Jethroe, and the third was Jackie Robinson.

The other occasion was in 1949 when Red Sox scouts refuse to waste their time waiting for rain to stop falling so they could scout a young black player named Willie Mays. The thought of Willie Mays and Ted Williams patrolling the same outfield is mind boggling. So instead of Boston being the first team to integrate their racial stubbornness caused them to be the last team to integrate. And the rest is history.

For a more in depth look at the racial climate in Boston in relation to the Red Sox I recommend that you check out Howard Bryant's book called Shut Out: A History of Race and Baseball in Boston

In a weird twist of fate for Pumpsie Green, following a series of losses to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Green and fellow teammate Gene Conley got off of the team bus while sitting in a traffic jam in the Bronx. They went to a bar to use the restroom and after a few drinks, they exited the bar and noticed the bus was gone. Green rejoined the team the next day. Conley went missing for a total three days spending his time at Toots Shor and at the Waldorf Astoria He would be spotted at Idlewild Airport (now known as JFK International Airport) trying to board a flight for Israel without any passports or luggage of any kind. Why? That question has never been answered.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for Pumpsie Green's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for the article The Boston Red Sox and Racism dated October 11, 2002 from the website
- Click Here to access the article Red Sox Give Jackie Robinson Tryout at Fenway Park in 1945, Two Years Before He Breaks MLB Color Barrier dated June 26, 2011 from
- Click Here to access Dan Shaughnessy's article Conley's stories fit to print dated December 15, 2004 from the Boston Globe website

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yogi Berra 414 in 7555

There were a couple of old school baseball fans hanging out at the bar during the Boston Red Sox/Tampa Bay Rays marathon on ESPN last night. I’m not sure how they got into this conversation but I found it too good to ignore. The gentlemen were talking general baseball, reminiscing on the players they watched when they were kids. One of the men said he was 56 years old so for argument sake, he was a kid living in New York City during the 1960’s. After throwing around a bunch of names like Stargell, Clemente, Mantle and Williams they landed on the name of Yogi Berra.

The discussion was based around how many rings Yogi won during his major league career. One man said he had 10, the other said he had 15. The men deferred to me to be the mediator and researcher of the statistics and I was able to do so with my trusty iTouch. In total, Berra had won 13 rings during his time in the Major Leagues. He won 10 as a player and 3 as a coach. Satisfied with the answer I gave them, they moved on to another Yogi Berra statistic that I really couldn’t ignore.

The discussion changed to the fact that one of the men had heard that Yogi Berra had struck out a total of 414 times in his entire career. One of the men had said that he heard it being discussed on some telecast and the announcer who mentioned it said that he saw the statistic and though it was “a misprint”. Again, the men defer to me to be the voice of reason in their discussion and off I go to research whether or not Yogi Berra in fact only had 414 strikeouts for his career.

After checking out the Baseball Statistics app on my iTouch, lo and behold Yogi Berra did indeed have only 414 strikeouts. WOW!!!! To better flesh out how impressive this was I decided to look at all of his stats. Berra played for a total of 19 seasons (1948-1963, 1965) in which he had a career batting average of .285. In 7555 at-bats, Berra had 2150 hits (321 2B, 49 3B, 358 HR) with 1430 RBI. He had a career .830 OPS (.348OBP/.482 SLG) with 704 Walks and the aforementioned 414 strikeouts. That averages out to roughly 22 strikeouts per season. Per season! Now I know this is not a fair comparison but look at Mark Reynolds of the Baltimore Orioles. Reynolds has led the league the last three seasons in strikeouts with combined 638 strikeouts. But has the mentality of making contact changed that much from then to now?

I decided to compare Berra to other Hall of Fame catchers from within the years that he played ad found something interesting. The players I looked at were Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Gabby Hartnett. All three players were phenomenal players from behind the plate.

Mickey Cochrane played for 13 seasons (1925-1937) and he compiled a .320 batting average with 1652 hits (333 2B, 64 3B, 119 HR) and 832 RBI in 5169 at-bats. His OPS was .897 (.419 OBP/.478 SLG) with 857 Walks, and 217 strikeouts. His highest of 26 strikeouts came in 1934 and his lowest of 8 came in 1929.

Bill Dickey played for 17 seasons (1928-1943, 1946) and he compiled a .313 batting average with 1969 hits (343 2B, 72 3B, 202 HR) and 1209 RBI in 6300 at-bats. His OPS was .868 (.382 OBP/.486 SLG) with 678 Walks and 289 strikeouts. His highest of 39 strikeouts came in 1939 and his lowest of 11 came in 1935.

Gabby Hartnett played for 20 seasons (1922-1941) and he compiled a .297 batting average with 1912 hits (396 2B, 64 3B, 236 HR) and 1179 RBI in 6432 at-bats. His OPS was .859 (.370 OBP/.489 SLG) with 703 Walks and 697 strikeouts. His highest of 77 strikeouts came in 1925 and his lowest of 19 came in 1937.

Why was it that these players strikeout to at-bat ratios was so miniscule compared to today’s players. Was it better plate discipline? Consider that Berra averaged 22 strikeouts per season with his highest being in 1959 with 38 strikeouts and his lowest being in 1950 with 12. Adding to that is the fact that during the what is known as New York City’s Golden Era of Baseball (1949-1957), Berra placed in the top ten of MVP voting seven times winning the AL MVP award three times and this is on a team with players like Mickey Mantle. Truly amazing.

Is there a simple explanation past that players like Berra, Cochrane, Dickey and Hartnett were extraordinary players and truly Hall of Famers? What do you think. Any sabermetricians want to add to this is? Let me know.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Derek Jeter Joins the 3000 Hit Club

Yesterday I had the pleasure to watch (on TV, not in person) Yankees' Captain Derek Jeter notch his 3000th hit with a homer against Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. In doing so, Jeter became the 28th member of the exclusive 3000 hit club. He finished his day with a career 5 for 5 day with a homerun and a double with a stolen base. He drove in the winning run with his final hit of the day. To celebrate Jeter's achievement, I wanted to post some interesting points:

- 28th member of the 3000 hit club
- First Yankee to hit all 3000 with the team. EVER!!!
- Second player to hit a homer for his 3000th hit (Wade Boggs in 1999)
- Second player to get five hits the day he hit his 3000th hit (Craig Biggio in 2007)
- 15th Player to hit first 3000 with the same franchise (Rose, Cobb, Aaron, Musial, Anson, Yastrzemski, Mays, Ripken, Brett, Yount, Gwynn, Biggio, Kaline, Clemente)
- 10th Player to play for only one team for their career in the 3000 hit club (Brett (Royals), Roberto Clemente (Pirates), Tony Gwynn (Padres), Al Kaline (Tigers), Stan Musial (Cardinals), Cal Ripken (Orioles), Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox) and Yount (Brewers))
- 18th player to do so with a .300+ career batting average (.313)
- 5th player to play with the Yankees to be in the 3000 hit club (Waner, Winfield, Boggs, Henderson)
- 14th Right handed hitter (12 left-handers, 2 switch hitters)
- 4th youngest to get 3000th hit at 37 years and 13 days of age (Cobb at 34 years 244 days, Aaron at 36 years 101 days, Yount 36 years 359 days)

Here are some of Derek Jeter's hits milestones:
1st hit 05/30/1995 against Seattle
1000th hit 09/25/2000 against Detroit
2000th hit 05/26/2006 against Kansas City
2722nd hit 09/11/2009 against Baltimore (Top of Yankees Hit list passing Lou Gehrig)
3000th hit 07/09/2011 against Tampa Bay

I can wax poetically on Jeter's achievement but I'll just let the statistics above speak for themselves. Oh, I just have one last thing to say about Derek Jeter: Hall of Famer.


*** Keep in mind that of the 28 players who are in the 3000 hit club, 25 of them have been enshrined in Cooperstown. Biggio becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2012, Jeter obviously is still active and the proverbial black sheep of the 3000 hit club is Rafael Palmiero whose Hall of Fame status is jeopardized by his failure of a steriod test in 2005.