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Munchies: The great Chipper Jones and ...

8/13/2010

Sorry to report I don't have enough time today to hand out the Sandwich Awards. But grab a box of toothpicks because there's always time for the ...

Chipper Jones

Jones

Munchies of the Week

• If this is it for Chipper Jones, do we even have to debate whether he's a Hall of Famer? He's the all-time leader in slugging and OPS by a third baseman. He ranks third in homers among third basemen behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. And he and George Brett are the only third basemen in history with a .300 lifetime average and more than 200 career homers. Chipper is also an MVP, a batting champ and a former No. 1 pick in the draft. So what's the argument against him? If it's out there, I can't find it.

• Oh, and one more thing. No player chosen with the first pick in the draft has ever made the Hall of Fame. But if Chipper calls it quits, he and Ken Griffey Jr. could change that -- by going in on the same day. What were the odds of that, huh?

• Speaking of awards, I want you to think about this. I'm not sure what Cy Young voters make of "wins" anymore. But here's something for all of them to think about: Josh Johnson leads the National League in ERA (at 1.97). So in most years, with most teams, that would probably make him the Cy Young favorite. But Johnson also leads the league in another meaningful category -- most wins blown by his bullpen (six). None of the past 40 Cy Young Award winners have led the league in that prestigious Most Blown Wins category. I guess we'll find out in three months whether that's a stat Cy Young voters take into account or not.

J.P. Arencibia

Arencibia

• The Blue Jays called up their catcher of the future, J.P. Arencibia, last weekend, and he became the fifth player in history -- and the first catcher -- to hit two home runs in his first game in the big leagues. Just to put that in perspective, Jason Kendall -- a three-time All-Star catcher -- has hit two home runs in his last 1,037 trips to the plate.

• Ah, what could have been. The triviologist in me is still a little bummed that the Orioles lost Thursday in Cleveland -- because if they'd won, they'd have been 9-1 under Buck Showalter. Which meant they would have done something this year that the Red Sox, Padres and Phillies still haven't done -- win nine out of 10. Oh well.

• But now here's something even more amazing about the Orioles: They have the worst record in the American League -- yet they lead the league in walk-off wins (with nine). Last team to pull off that daily double in either league over a full season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau? It was Danny Tartabull's 1986 Mariners (12 walk-off wins -- in a 95-loss season).

• Speaking of teams whose seasons make no sense, how 'bout those Mets? They've thrown 17 shutouts (most in baseball) -- but they don't have a winning record (57-57). So (A) that makes them 40-57 in games where they make the mistake of allowing a run. (B) They're a threat to become just the third team in the last 23 years -- and first since the '96 Marlins -- to lead its league in shutouts but not finish with a winning record. And (C) in really big news, Elias reports the Mets would be just the second team since 1980 to throw this many shutouts but not finish over .500. The only other team with at least 17 shutouts to do that: Orel Hershiser's 1989 Dodgers.

• And now another incomprehensible Mets feat. They've allowed nine grand slams (most in the big leagues) -- but have hit zero slams (fewest in the big leagues, obviously). Anybody want to guess the last team to lead the major leagues outright in grand slams allowed over a full season and not hit any themselves, according to Elias? It was the Mets' proud forefathers, Frank Casteleman's 1956 New York Giants (seven salamis allowed, zero launched).

Michael Bourn

Bourn

• As loyal reader, and dulcet voice of the Astros, Brett Dolan reports, Astros sprint champ Michael Bourn might have had the wildest trip around the bases we've witnessed all year on Wednesday. After all, how often do you see a guy steal third base immediately after getting caught stealing third base? Well, here's how that happened:

He led off the fourth inning with an infield single. Then he stole second. Then he took off for third on the next pitch. But Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson whirled, stepped off and got him in a rundown. Except Hanson dropped a throw in the rundown, so Bourn managed to scramble back to second on what was scored a caught-stealing/E1. Whereupon Bourn promptly swiped third and eventually scored.

So that's two stolen bases and a caught-stealing in the same inning, if you're scoring at home. And the last player to do that, Elias reports, was Jermaine Dye, for the White Sox on Aug. 27, 2005. Stole second. Stole third. Then got caught stealing home. Try that on your PlayStation some time.

• And here's something else that happened in that Atlanta-Houston series we can almost guarantee you've never seen before: In the first at-bat of his career, Braves pitcher Mike Minor lined what he thought was a single to right -- and got thrown out at first, 9-3 (Hunter Pence to Brett Wallace).

Jonathan Broxton

Broxton

• Is it officially safe to say yet that Philadelphia isn't the favorite road town of Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton? Over the past two seasons, only twice -- in 104 trips to the mound -- has Broxton had an inning in which he hit a batter and unintentionally walked a batter. They both happened in Citizens Bank Park to set up epic blown saves -- once in Game 4 of the '09 NLCS, the other Thursday as his team was coughing up a seven-run lead with six outs to go. Astounding.

• How'd this happen? As loyal reader Michael Stroh reports, the Cubs sent eight hitters to the plate against the Reds on Saturday -- and not one of them put the ball in play. It went: walk, strikeout, walk, walk, HBP, strikeout, walk, strikeout. If the Reds had known, they could have sent seven guys out there with beach chairs instead of gloves.

• Love this incredible note from the geniuses at our new favorite blog, "You Can't Predict Baseball,": When Mariano Rivera gave up a leadoff ninth-inning triple to Elvis Andrus on Wednesday and then stranded him on third, it preserved one of baseball's most amazing streaks. In the entire career of the great Mariano, when he's allowed the tying run to reach third with nobody out, the other team has never gotten that run home. Wow.

James Shields

Shields

• Box score line of the week: How 'bout James Shields' enjoyable Saturday afternoon in Toronto: 4 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 2 K and 6 (count 'em, six) homers. Shields' claims to fame: (A) He was only the third pitcher in the 42-season division-play era to serve up six homers in a game. (B) Three different pitchers -- Josh Johnson, Francisco Liriano and Anibal Sanchez -- have faced more than 500 hitters this year and allowed fewer homers than Shields gave up in one day. And (C) Shields became the first American Leaguer in the live-ball era (and second big-leaguer in the past 90 years) to give up nine extra-base hits in one game -- but no singles. (The only other pitcher to do it: Ricky Nolasco, against the Braves, on April 17, 2008.)

• Finally, you had to love Mike Fontenot's unique visit to San Francisco this week. He arrived as a Cub, left as a Giant and, along the way, had an RBI hit for the Cubs and batted for the Giants -- in the same series. So who's the last hitter to drive in a run for one team and get an at-bat for the other in the same series? Elias reports it was none other than noted history-maker Doug Mientkiewicz, in a Twins-Red Sox series wrapped around the 2004 trading deadline. Shoulda known!