Tag Archives: baseball-reference

The greatest Astro/Brave(s)

The pennants have been decided, largely without my attention, because never in recent memory have four teams I less care for been vying for the title. The Dodgers and Red Sox are OK I guess but they just won. The Astros keep winning pennants and are holders of a recent world championship tainted by sign-stealing. And the Braves are a just-OK team that knocked out the Brewers. If they still had Kevin Gausman and Nick Markakis, I’d root for them anyway, but now? In fact, unless I’m forgetting somebody, there is no ex-Oriole playing on either side of the World Series this year. So much for that metric.

But the Series must go on, and with it, this annual feature: which player had the greatest combined contribution to the two teams that remain? I have to admit, I couldn’t think of a single player who played for both. (Has to do with growing up an AL fan when both of these teams were on the other side.) When I ran the numbers, there was a pretty close race for first, and here’s what’s cool — the two players, Denis Menke and Denny LeMaster, both came up with the (Milwaukee) Braves in 1962 and went to the Astros in the same trade in 1968! Menke was a shortstop, who had a couple of All-Star years in Houston but never fielded as well as he had for the Braves. He was later the hitting coach for the pennant-winning 1993 Phillies, and he died about 10 months ago in Florida. LeMaster was a starting pitcher for most of his time with both teams, never a star, always a reliable innings-eater.

And who was on the other side of the trade for these two great Astro-Braves? Chuck Harrison, who didn’t amount to much, and Sonny Jackson, who never really equalled his 49-steal age-21 rookie season, but who stuck around for 12 years playing kind-of-OK baseball, 7 years with the Braves following his 5 for Houston. He’s probably the player with the longest combined career for both this teams. And he went to Montgomery Blair High School in my home county of Montgomery County, Maryland. Maybe that’s the closest connection I can make between the Orioles and the 2021 World Series.

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Why is Tommy Hunter so freaking hard to watch?

Tommy Hunter is on the DL and it’s made me a calmer person. He’s been lousy this year, and not just when he blows a save, which he’s done four times; he’s been pretty terrible in the games he does save, seemingly always letting guys on and coming within a hair of blowing the game.  My heart can’t take much more.  Is it just my imagination?  Or does Tommy Hunter really have more near-misses than other pitchers?  Well, here’s one thing you could check; if Hunter is constantly letting a few guys on but then buckling down and getting the big out when he needs it, you’d expect him to be a much better pitcher with runners in scoring position than he is in general.  (In general, batters gain about 10 points of OPS when batting with RISP.)  Here’s where baseball-reference’s amazing Play Index comes in.  You can rank all pitchers in MLB history by “OPS against with runners in scoring position – OPS against overall.”  You can restrict to people who’ve faced at least 400 batters with RISP in order to get rid of small samples.  And you know who baseball’s all-time leader is in this stat?  Yep — Tommy Hunter.  Here’s the top 21.


Rk I Player Split G OPS OPStot Diff
1 Tommy Hunter RISP 133 .683 .777 -.094
2 Pedro Feliciano RISP 268 .604 .696 -.092
3 Hideki Irabu RISP 106 .707 .797 -.090
4 Julio Santana RISP 169 .730 .820 -.090
5 Steve Parris RISP 136 .740 .829 -.089
6 J.A. Happ RISP 131 .669 .756 -.087
7 Doug Rau RISP 209 .612 .698 -.086
8 John Grabow RISP 294 .665 .751 -.086
9 Bob Sebra RISP 86 .689 .775 -.086
10 Victor Zambrano RISP 165 .679 .764 -.085
11 Jordan Zimmermann RISP 118 .615 .695 -.080
12 Scott Proctor RISP 194 .704 .782 -.078
13 Scott Baker RISP 159 .661 .737 -.076
14 Cecilio Guante RISP 267 .612 .685 -.073
15 Frank Francisco RISP 239 .624 .697 -.073
16 Dennis Bennett RISP 163 .659 .732 -.073
17 Kevin Slowey RISP 125 .726 .798 -.072
18 Buzz Capra RISP 127 .644 .712 -.068
19 Erik Bedard RISP 222 .632 .699 -.067
20 Scott Linebrink RISP 338 .662 .729 -.067
21 John Frascatore RISP 203 .714 .781 -.067
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/23/2014.

Do any of these other pitchers have the same reputation as guys who destroy your nerves by constantly getting into jams and somehow wriggling out?

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In which Matt Wieters isn’t special

Matt Wieters got his first major-league hit tonight, a stand-up triple.  I wondered:  was he the first catcher ever to have a triple as his first hit in the bigs?  This is the kind of question that the amazing Baseball Reference Play Index is made to answer, and the answer is nope:  in fact, Yorvit Torrealba did it — in his first major league plate appearance, no less! — in 2001.

Update: In fact, want to know another catcher whose first major-league hit was a triple?  Dane Sardinha, the opposing catcher in tonight’s game!

Update:  In case you’re not reading the comments — know who the opposing catcher was when Dane Sardinha got his first major-league hit?  Yup — Yorvit Torrealba.  Now that is a piece of baseball trivia for true connoisseurs.

Guthrie has 10 strikeouts in the first 6 innings but keeps getting in trouble; I think of it as being kind of hard to pitch a bad game when you strike out 10 batters, but in this connection B-R PI pulls up last month’s stinker of a start by Toronto’s David Purcey; 10 strikeouts, but 6 walks and 5 runs allowed, and he didn’t make it out of the 5th.



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Baseball Reference Play Index free this week!

I wanted to mention that one of the most remarkable baseball utilities on the web, the Baseball Reference Play Index, is offering a free trial until July 19 in honor of the All-Star Break. Want to know how many times in the last fifty years a player has hit at least 50 doubles and at most 5 home runs? This question was inspired by Brian Roberts’ 2004 season: it turns out that besides Roberts, only Mark Grudzielanek (1997) and Wade Boggs (1989) have pulled this off. Want to know about Orioles who’ve been hit by pitches in 2008? Here’s a complete report, from which you can learn that O’s batters were hit 11 times when we were winning, and only 5 times when we were behind. So far in 2008, 29 batters have been hit by pitches with the bases loaded. Rather, it’s happened 29 times to 24 different batters; Carlos Quentin has been hit with the bases loaded three times already this season. (Finding the all-time record for most bases-loaded HBP in a season seems beyond PI’s power; at least, I couldn’t figure out how to do it.) On May 23 of this year, Gavin Floyd of the White Sox hit two straight Angel batters in the fifth with two outs and the bases loaded, in a game LA would eventually win 3-1. You want to see a manager with confidence in his starter? Floyd stayed in to face Vladimir Guererro with the bases loaded, got him to ground out, and ended up pitching the complete game.

In other baseball news, Daniel Cabrera started another interleague game, came up three times, and struck out three more times; The Record That Will Never Be Broken is now 14 strikeouts in 14 at-bats. His perfect record is marred only by a sacrifice hit he collected in 2006. Is there anybody who’s struck out in every single plate appearance? Again, PI gets the job done: the record is held jointly by Kane Davis and Justin Duscherer, each of whom is a lifetime 6-whiffs-for-6.

Here’s the list of batters with at least 25 plate appearances against Cabrera, sorted by OPS.  Just another chance to say, “Jeter stinks.”

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