Friday, January 27, 2012
Prince, father-son duos, senior citizens
By Jayson Stark
Strike One: Fresh Prince Dept.
Now that Prince Fielder is taking his act to Detroit, we have all sorts of fascinating stuff to contemplate. Such as ...
• The Tigers are now a team that has assembled three guys who have finished in the top three of an MVP election: Prince, Miguel Cabrera and your reigning MVP, Justin Verlander. So how many other teams currently employ more than one player who has done that? Here they come:
Prince Fielder averages a home run every 15.3 at-bats.
• Prince's return to Detroit also introduces all sorts of cool father-son angles. Did you know that if he hits 40 homers this (or any) season, he and his dad, Cecil, would become the first father-son pair in history to hit 40 or more in a season for the same team?
• The Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run guru David Vincent, also reports that only three father-son duos have ever even hit 20 in a season for the same team. Here they come:
Gus (30, in 1953) and Buddy (20, in 1986) Bell (Reds)
Felipe (25, in 1962) and Moises (22, in 2006) Alou (Giants)
Bobby (six times) and Barry (14 times) (Giants)
• And only the Bonds family has ever produced a father and son who hit 30-plus in a season for the same team. Bobby went deep 32 times in 1969. Barry, you know all about.
• The Fielders, incidentally, are already the only father-son members of the I Hit 50 in a Season (For Any Team) Club.
• Back in the late, great 1990s, Cecil hit 245 home runs for the Tigers. Since Prince is going to be sticking around until 2020, it's a good bet he hits at least that many. If so, the Sultan says the Fielders will become the first father-son combo ever to hit more than 200 bombs for the same team. Who knew!
• The only previous father-son act that even hit 100 or more for the same team? The Bonds family (586 for Barry, 186 for his dad), naturally. The only other duo that came close? The Griffeys (210 for Ken Jr., 71 for Senior).
• Meanwhile, it's hard to escape the inevitable poundage tidbits. If we accept the official weights listed for Prince (275 pounds) and Cabrera (240), they'll weigh in at 515 pounds. Believe it or not, that would only tie them for the heftiest position-player teammates in the big leagues, if we disqualify catchers. The co-leaders in the tip-the-scales-tag-team standings: Carlos Lee (265) and Brett Wallace (250) in Houston.
• And, finally, when Prince hits his 20th homer this year, he'll become the fourth active member of the exalted 250-250 Club (250 Pounds, 250 Homers). The others, according to baseball-reference.com's sensational Play Index: Adam Dunn, Jim Thome and Carlos Lee. No truth to the rumor that all active members get a lifetime pass to the Old Country Buffet.
Strike Two: Seniors Night Dept.
The Rockies just signed Jamie Moyer. The Blue Jays just signed Omar Vizquel. Jim Thome is bringing his first-base mitt to the Phillies' camp. So darned, those old-timers out there just keep on chugging. And let's try to put that in perspective:
• Moyer is 49 years old. If he makes the team, he'll become only the second non-knuckleballer in history to throw a pitch at age 49 or older. The other: Satchel Paige, who came out of retirement to pitch one game for the 1965 Kansas City A's -- at age 59.
• If Moyer actually wins a game, he'll become just the third pitcher -- but the oldest non-knuckleballer -- to rack up a win at this advanced age. The others: Jack Quinn (50) and Hoyt Wilhelm (49). Oldest non-knuckleballer besides Moyer ever to get credited for a win in the big leagues: The unforgettable Hod Lisenbee, at age 46, in 1945.
• Then there's Vizquel. He'll turn 45 in April. If he even starts one game at shortstop for the Blue Jays, he'll become the first 45-year-old to start at short in modern history. He and Bobby Wallace (of the 1918 Cardinals) are the only 44-year-olds to do it.
• And if Vizquel finds his way into the box scores in as many games as he did last year (58), he'll become just the third position player in modern history to play at least 50 games at age 45 or older. I'll bet you've heard of the other two: Pete Rose (who played in 72, at age 45, for the 1986 Reds) and Julio Franco (who appeared in 108, at age 46, for the 2005 Braves).
• Finally, how about Thome? He's 41 now. He turns 42 in August. And his manager, Charlie Manuel, says he thinks Thome can play 20 games at first base this year. Well, if he does, he'll be just the ninth player since World War 2 to start at least 20 games at first base in a season at age 41 or older. Julio Franco did it at age 47! Rose started 61 games at age 45 -- and actually started all 162 games when he was Thome's age!
• So postseason baseball games drag on way too long, huh? Really? As our compadre, Jorge Arangure, observed Sunday, just the REGULATION portion of that 49ers-Giants game took longer to play than five of the seven 2011 World Series games.
• Another fun Jamie Moyer note, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info's Justin Ray: Moyer's first game in the big leagues was June 16, 1986. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 263 players who weren't even born yet back then appeared in at least one major league game last season.
• And as ESPN Stats & Info Kernel collector Doug Kern reports, Moyer played in 141 games in the big leagues before the Rockies played their FIRST game in the big leagues.
• Just so Yu Darvish knows where his bar is set, want to guess which Japanese starting pitcher has had the most dominating season on this side of the Pacific? According to baseball-reference.com, it wasn't Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideo Nomo, believe it or not. If we rank all seasons of 10 starts or more by Adjusted ERA-Plus, the winner is ... uhhhhh, Tomo Ohka? Now we'd like somebody to explain how this can be. His 13 appearances for the 2000 Red Sox were assigned a 163 ERA-Plus, even though his other numbers don't quite add up to what we'd commonly describe as "dominance": 3-6, 3.12 ERA, 1.385 WHIP and just 5.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Take a look at this list for yourself. And if you can decipher it, please let us know.
• Oh, and one more thing: Now that Prince has signed, the only remaining free agent who had an OPS of at least .800 last year (with at least 300 plate appearances) is ... Casey Kotchman (.800 on the nose). Who else?