Stats & Info: San Diego Padres

Yankees look to Headley at the hot corner

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22

Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesChase Headley looks to provide some help for the Yankees at third base.
The Yankees acquired Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday for Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula.

Headley, who missed 14 games with a calf injury earlier this season, is having a down year offensively. Among 163 qualified hitters, his .229 batting average ranks 147th and his .651 OPS ranks 145th. These are a far cry from his career year in 2012, when he hit .286 with an .875 OPS and an NL-leading 115 RBIs.

However, his power numbers could see some improvement as he transitions from a pitcher-friendly Petco Park to a hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. At Petco, 9 percent of fly balls turn into home runs, whereas at Yankee Stadium that figure is 13.2 percent (major league average is 10.3 percent).

Yankees third basemen have been serviceable for the season, matching the major league average with a .260 batting average and a .723 OPS. However, this might be misleading, as the majority of the Yankees’ contributions at the hot corner came at the beginning of the season, particularly from Solarte.

Solarte hit .303 with a .404 on-base percentage in April, and as late as May 14 led the AL in batting average at .336. However he hit .164 in June and is 2-for-17 (.118 batting average) so far in July. Since June 1, Solarte has just three extra-base hits, with no homers and five RBIs.

Overall since June 1, Yankees third basemen are last in MLB with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBIs and second-to-last with a .302 slugging percentage. Headley is hitting .259 over that span with three home runs and 14 RBIs, including .323 in July.

Headley can also help the Yankees improve on the defensive side of the ball. Headley's seven defensive runs saved are tied for third in the majors at his position. Yankees third basemen have combined for minus-1 defensive runs saved, which ranks in the bottom half of the league at the hot corner.

Top stats to know: Dodgers at Padres

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
It’s the 25th season of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, as the Los Angeles Dodgers match up with their division rival, the San Diego Padres.

Let’s take a look at some of the statistical storylines the Sunday Night Baseball crew will be talking about.

Dodgers top payroll list
According to the Associated Press, the Dodgers Opening Day payroll will come in at just over $235 million, knocking the Yankees from the top spot. This will be the first time that the Yankees do not have the highest Opening Day payroll in the majors since 1998, when the Orioles were atop the list. The $235 million is also projected to be the highest single-season payroll in MLB history.

Not only will the Dodgers open up with 2014’s highest payroll, but it’s a continuation of a rapid increase in spending under the new ownership. The Dodgers Opening Day payroll was $105 million as recently as 2012, before $216 million last season.

Ryu gets right in second half
Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers after Clayton Kershaw was scratched due to back pain.

Ryu’s most effective pitch last season was his changeup, and it was among the most effective for any starter in the league, tied for third in OPS allowed against the pitch.

Not only was it among the most effective overall, but it got better as the season went on.

One reason for the improvement was that the location of Ryu’s changeup against right-handed batters became much more precise after the All-Star break, locating it on the corner rather than consistently off the plate.

Padres ponying up
The Padres have made significant increases to their payroll the last four seasons. Their Opening Day payroll has climbed from about $38 million in 2010 to more than $90 million this season.

But the Padres have a long list of injury issues to deal with, including one of their most notable acquisitions of the offseason, Josh Johnson, who will miss time with a strained flexor muscle.

Closing with a flourish
Padres starter Andrew Cashner had a great finish to 2013, with a 1.70 ERA in his last nine starts. His strikeout-to-walk rate went from 2.3-to-1 in his first 17 starts to 4.5-to-1 in his last nine.

Cashner allowed four earned runs in 44 2/3 innings over his last six starts, including one run in 14 innings in two starts against the Dodgers.

Cashner's success might be linked to the increased use of his slider, a pitch he was throwing only about eight percent of the time in June. He was throwing it nearly once every four pitches in September.

Though Cashner is not often grouped with the hardest throwers in the majors, he can touch 97 MPH on the radar gun, which will come in handy when he faces Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig.

Of the last 57 pitches Puig saw that were 95 MPH or faster in 2013, he managed only one hit. He had 11 hits on the first 94 he saw.

Peavy headlines quiet trade deadline

July, 31, 2013
The MLB trade deadline passed quietly, with only four deals made Wednesday, tied for the fewest on July 31 in the last 10 seasons.

Over the previous five seasons, there has been an average of eight trades made each year on July 31. Last year on July 31, there were 10 trades that included 28 total players.
Who fits best statistically for deals made surrounding this season’s trade deadline?

Jake Peavy
By acquiring Peavy, the Boston Red Sox have made it clear that starting pitching is their point of emphasis. The Red Sox rotation ranks third in the American League with a 3.77 ERA this season, a far cry from the 5.19 they posted in 2012.

Peavy looks not only to bolster a strong pitching staff in Boston but could perhaps become its ace. Since the 2012 season, his 6.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is higher than any other starter currently on the team.

Alfonso Soriano
While we detailed what Soriano brings to the New York Yankees in an earlier post, it is worth briefly revisiting his impact on the Yankees lineup. He has already provided a spark with a home run and walk-off hit this past Sunday. No right-handed outfielder had homered for the Yankees since Vernon Wells on May 12.

Soriano brings right-handed power to a lineup that is currently tied for last in the major leagues with 26 home runs by righties.

Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy, who was traded to the San Diego Padres, hasn’t been the same pitcher since finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young voting in 2011. He posted a 2.88 ERA that season but has a 4.47 ERA since, including 5.23 this season (88th out of 92 qualified starters in MLB)

One of Kennedy’s issues has been, as a fly ball pitcher, he’s prone to giving up the long ball. He’s allowing 1.31 home runs per 9 innings this season, which ranks 75th among qualified starters.

The move from Chase Field to PETCO Park should help keep those fly balls in the yard. PETCO is tied for the fourth-friendliest pitcher’s park this season, according to FanGraphs. Arizona’s Chase Field, by comparison, is tied for the third-friendliest hitter’s park.

The Padres are hoping Kennedy will be as successful pitching for them at PETCO as he has been as a visitor in the past. He’s 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts at the park, his second lowest ERA of any park in which he’s made at least three starts.

Lincecum's no-no not one to miss

July, 14, 2013
Tim Lincecum
The common thought was that Tim Lincecum's time to throw a no-hitter was behind him.

His combined ERA over the past two seasons was 4.97. He was allowing exactly a hit per inning this season, a career-high pace. He hadn't even pitched to a batter in the eighth inning this season. But he turned the tables on conventional thought Saturday night with some vintage electric stuff.

Lincecum worked hard for his slice of history. His career high for pitches before Saturday was 138 back in 2011. He needed 148 in this one, which was one pitch shy of Edwin Jackson's 2010 no-no for the most in the last quarter century.

Twenty-nine of those pitches induced swings-and-misses. That's an astounding number considering it was Lincecum's career high and the second-most by ANY pitcher in the past five seasons. In fact, none of the other 32 no-hitters since the turn of the century saw more whiffs.

The most potent pitch of the bunch was Lincecum's changeup. The seven strikeouts that came via that pitch were the most for him in more than two years.

His overall strikeout total of 13 fell short of his career high (15), but consider that only six different pitchers have EVER had more strikeouts in a no-hitter than Lincecum.

In a long line of special no-hitters, this one ranks up there as one of the more dominating ones.

• An amazing bit of history here: Remember that Lincecum was the losing pitcher in Homer Bailey's no-hitter earlier this season. The only other time a losing pitcher in a no-hitter went on to throw the NEXT no-no in MLB history was Mal Eason in 1906! He lost to Johnny Lush on May 1 and then reversed the tables on the Cardinals on July 20 that season.

• Lincecum, who entered with a pedestrian 4.68 ERA, becomes the fifth pitcher to have multiple Cy Young awards at the time of his first career no-hitter. The others are Johan Santana, Bret Saberhagen, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson.

• Buster Posey becomes the 48th catcher to catch multiple no-hitters.

This was San Francisco's third no-hitter since 2009, two of which have come against the Padres (Jonathan Sanchez being the other). That has to be a little extra salt in the wounds of San Diego, which remains the only MLB team without any no-hitters to call its own.

This was the fourth time the Padres faithful had to witness their team get no-hit in their home stadium, the first at Petco Park (Bud Smith, A.J. Burnett and Dock Ellis).

Corbin wins with dominant breaking ball

May, 21, 2013
The three pitchers with the best ERAs in baseball took the mound on Monday night, and the one who was most dominant was neither Clayton Kershaw nor Shelby Miller, but Arizona Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin.

Let’s run through some of the highlights of Corbin’s performance, which was unusually good from both a historical and statistical perspective.

The accolades
Corbin threw a three-hit complete game with 10 strikeouts.

He is the third visiting pitcher to throw a nine-inning complete game at Coors Field with 10 or more strikeouts, and the first since 1998. The list is in the chart on the right.

Only one Diamondbacks lefty had previously recorded a complete game, allowing three hits or fewer with 10 or more strikeouts-- Randy Johnson, who did so seven times for them.

Corbin is the second pitcher in the last 20 seasons to open a season with nine straight starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer in six innings or more.

The other is Ubaldo Jimenez, who opened 2010 with a dozen straight such starts for the Rockies.

How he won
Corbin took advantage of the Rockies’ willingness to swing at pitches outside the strike zone.

He threw 74 of his 97 pitches for strikes, despite less than half of his pitches being thrown inside the Pitch F/X strike zone.

Corbin repeatedly tantalized Rockies hitters with his breaking ball. He threw 34 of them and the Rockies went after 21, missing on 15 of them (almost all of which were thrown down-and-in to righties or down-and-away from lefties).

This breaking ball is Corbin’s signature pitch. Opponents have taken 94 swings at it and missed 54 times. His 58 percent miss rate is easily the highest in the majors.

Corbin’s 39 strikeouts with his breaking pitches are the third-most of any pitcher in the NL this season, trailing only A.J. Burnett’s 44 and Clayton Kershaw's 42.

Looking ahead
Corbin is the second pitcher in the last three seasons to win his first seven decisions of the season for the Diamondbacks. Micah Owings did so in 2011.

Corbin is two wins away from the Diamondbacks' club record for wins to start a season. Brandon Webb started the 2008 season with a 9-0 mark.

Corbin should next start against the San Diego Padres this weekend. He held the Padres to one run in seven innings in that appearance.

Jacob Nitzberg contributed research to this post.

Losing Greinke has Dodgers blue

April, 12, 2013
San Diego Padres slugger Carlos Quentin rushed the mound and wrestled Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke to the ground after getting hit by a pitch Thursday night. A bench-clearing brawl ensued, but in the melee Greinke suffered a fractured collarbone.
Greinke Quentin
This wasn’t the first time Greinke and Quentin have had a run-in.

July 18, 2008: With two on in the bottom of the first, Greinke hit Quentin to load the bases, and the Chicago White Sox went on to score five runs that inning. Quentin then led off the second inning and homered to left field.

April 8, 2009: In their first meeting the next year, Quentin struck out in the bottom of the first, in an at-bat that included a high-and-tight pitch. Greinke then hit Quentin between the shoulders in the fourth inning. Quentin took a step toward the mound before plate umpire Bill Hohn jumped in front of him. Greinke said afterward, "The first at-bat kind of scared me because you never want to do that to anyone. It happens. You hit guys sometimes."

April 9, 2013: In the first game of this series, Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario hit Quentin with a high and tight fastball, right in the right wrist. Quentin had to leave that game and missed the next one recovering from the bruise.

Greinke is the fourth pitcher to hit Quentin three or more times, and in total 18 pitchers have hit Quentin at least twice in his career.

In fact, getting hit is nothing new for Quentin who led MLB in hit-by-pitch in both 2011 (23, in 118 games) and 2012 (17, in 86 games).

While losing Quentin’s pop at the plate is a big deal for the Padres, the loss of Greinke to the Dodgers’ rotation could have a bigger impact. Greinke signed the fourth-largest total value contract by a pitcher this offseason.

Plus he’s been durable and effective on the mound.

Greinke is one of six pitchers who threw 170+ innings and struck out 170+ batters each year from 2008 to 2012 (CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain). His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which considers a pitcher's three true outcomes of HR, K and BB) is the third-best in MLB since 2009.

So who will replace Greinke? Here are a few options from the Dodgers 40-man roster.

LHP Ted Lilly: 53 starts for Dodgers since 2010. He threw 90 pitches in Triple-A rehab start on Thursday.

LHP Chris Capuano: 33 starts for Dodgers last season. He replaced Greinke on Thursday.

RHP Stephen Fife: five starts for the Dodgers last season. He started for Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday.

Milestones, pedigree highlight Fall Classic

October, 24, 2012

Leon Halip/Getty ImagesGame 1 starter Justin Verlander hopes to lead the Tigers to their first World Series title since 1984.
They're among the oldest franchises in baseball but on Wednesday the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants will meet in the World Series for the first time.

Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander takes the mound in Game 1 against Barry Zito, who won the Cy Young in 2002 with the Oakland Athletics.

It's the fourth matchup between starters who previously won the Cy Young in World Series Game 1 history and all have come since 1995.

The Giants are making their 19th appearance in the Fall Classic. That's second only to the Yankees who have been there 40 times.

The Giants are trying to win their seventh World Series and second in the last three seasons.

Prior to winning it all in 2010 over the Texas Rangers, the Giants had lost the World Series three times since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

History tells us the Giants stand a good chance of winning the series.

Since the LCS format went to best-of-seven in 1985, this is the fourth time that a Fall Classic will feature a team that swept its LCS and a team that went the full seven games in its LCS.

In each of the three previous instances, the team that went the distance handily won the World Series (2007 Red Sox swept Rockies, 2006 Cardinals beat Tigers in five games, 1988 Dodgers beat A's in five games).

However according to 10,000 simulations by Accuscore, the Tigers have a 72 percent chance of winning the series and a 48 percent chance to win it in five or six games.

The Tigers haven't won the World Series since Sparky Anderson, Jack Morris and company defeated the San Diego Padres in five games in 1984. Justin Verlander was not quite two years old then.

Jim Leyland is trying to do what Sparky Anderson did in 1984, win a World Series in both leagues.

Leyland won his first World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997 then lost in 2006 with the Tigers. In fact, Detroit has been involved in the only two instances of a manager winning in both leagues as Tony La Russa became the second to do it in 2006 with the St. Louis Cardinals in their win over the Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera is trying to become the third Triple Crown winner to go on and win the World Series. Frank Robinson (1966 Orioles) and Mickey Mantle (1956 Yankees) are the only two to pull it off at this point.

Although the two teams have never previously met in the World Series, they’ve met in four regular-season series in interleague play, all three-game series, in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2011. The Giants won seven of those 12 games.

Gonzalez does damage early in count

September, 24, 2012
Adrian Gonzalez
The Los Angeles Dodgers kept pace in the Wild Card race by beating the Cincinnati Reds with the help of two big lefties; Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw.

After homering in his first plate appearance with the Dodgers on August 25, Gonzalez went 105 at-bats before hitting his second one in the second inning Sunday.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third-longest homerless at-bat streak of Gonzalez’s career. He went 110 at-bats between home runs for the Padres in 2006 and had a drought of 109 at-bats earlier this season for the Red Sox.

Sunday was the 14th multi-home run game of Gonzalez’s career, but it was the first in which both of his homers gave his team the lead. His second-inning homer put the Dodgers ahead 1-0 and his seventh-inning homer made it 2-1 Los Angeles.

Both of Gonzalez’s homers also came early in the count, the first off a 1-0 fastball and the second off a first-pitch slider.

Gonzalez, like many hitters, has been at his best this season when he attacks early in the count.

Twelve of his 18 homers this season, including all three with the Dodgers, have come early in the count.

Plus, Gonzalez now has five career homers in just 15 at-bats against Homer Bailey, his most against any pitcher.

Kershaw took the mound for the first time in 12 days due to a hip injury. He was a bit rusty, especially with his fastball command.

Kershaw threw just 32 of his 62 fastballs (52 percent) for strikes, his second-lowest percentage in 147 career starts. He issued five walks for the first time this season and only the second time in the last two seasons.

However, Kershaw still was able to command his breaking pitches, and he was able to escape trouble by going to them in key situations.

Six of the seven curveballs Kershaw threw came with runners in scoring position. Reds hitters finished 1-for-9 in at-bats ending with his breaking balls and 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Three of Kershaw’s five strikeouts came with runners in scoring position, all with his breaking balls (two curveballs, one slider). Maybe the biggest coming from a slider that struck out Joey Votto with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

It was the 10th time Votto has struck out against Kershaw in 17 career at-bats, his most against any pitcher. Six of the first seven strikeouts came on fastballs, but the last three strikeouts have come on breaking balls.

The Dodgers are off Monday, but finish the season with three games at the San Diego Padres, and six games at home. Three apiece vs the Colorado Rockies and rival San Francisco Giants.

Stults not quite Kershaw, but progressing

September, 4, 2012

Eric Stults has been a very difficult matchup for left-handed hitters this year.

In the matchup of left-handers in the second game of our Tuesday Night Baseball doubleheader (10 pm ET, ESPN), the known quantity is Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.

But Kershaw’s former teammate, Eric Stults, has done his part recently to make this a formidable matchup against the San Diego Padres. Let’s take a closer look at what’s made him worth watching of late.

Recent success
Stults has been terrific as a starter this season since returning to the rotation at the beginning of August. After going 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA in his first five starts, he’s 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last five. It hasn't just been about home-field advantage for Stults at PETCO Park. He's allowed one run in 14 2/3 innings in his last two road starts.

This will be the first time he’s facing his former team, the Dodgers, whom he pitched for from 2006 to 2009.

One of the keys to his success this season has been that he’s arguably the best lefty in terms of shutting down an opponents left-handed hitters. He’ll likely face at least two in Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier.

In this recent hot stretch, left-handed hitters are 3-for-38 (all three hits are singles) against him with eight strikeouts and no walks.

Why else is he winning?
Two other things have gone his way and his long-term performance will determine whether this is good fortune or skill-based. Opponents are 1-for-their-last-17 against him with runners in scoring position and are hitting just .114 against him with runners in scoring position as a starter this season.

In his last five starts, opponents are also hitting .175 with a puny .222 on-base percentage after he falls behind in the count 1-0. They hit .278 with a .409 on-base percentage in those situations in his first five starts.

Stults issues versus right-handers stem from them being able to hit his changeup. Opponents are hitting .315 with a .760 OPS in 73 at-bats ending in a changeup. Of the balls they’ve hit against him, a whopping 26 percent have been line drives.

Expect the Dodgers to make a decent amount of contact tonight. In 34 career starts, Stults has struck out more than 5 batters just twice.

Stults is averaging just 4.5 strikeouts per 9 innings this season, which would be the fourth-lowest among MLB starters if he had pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

The challenge of the opposing starter
Stults doesn’t quite have the arsenal of his opposition on the mound.

He’ll be challenged to beat Kershaw, who has a 2.35 career ERA at Dodgers Stadium, the best by an active pitcher in his home ballpark.
Kershaw is 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA in six starts against the Padres since the start of last season.

The biggest challenge for Padres hitters? Hitting Kershaw’s curveball.

Kershaw has upped his rate of throwing curveballs from about once every 16 pitches in 2011 to once every nine this season. The pitch has netted him 86 outs and yielded only nine hits, with only one of those hits going for extra bases.

Last season, Kershaw won the NL’s version of the pitching Triple Crown. This season, he’s on his way to winning the curveball Triple Crown.

Kershaw’s curve ranks best in the majors in terms of opponents’ batting average (.084), on-base percentage (.084—no walks with it) and slugging percentage (.095).

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Manny Machado has been on fire since his rookie debut belting three homers in four games.

Baltimore Orioles rookie Manny Machado has made quite a splash since his debut last Thursday.

In four games Machado has gone 6-for-16 (.375 BA), with five extra-base hits, three home runs and seven RBI.

He is yet another rookie who has made a very quick impact after making their MLB debut this season.

Machado tripled in his first MLB game, then had two home runs in his second game. The Elias Sports Bureau notes he became the youngest player to hit two home runs in either his first or second MLB game.

Sunday, Machado hit his third home run in his 13th career at-bat. Surprisingly he's the fifth player to hit three homers in his first 13 at-bats over the last six seasons and the third to do so this year.

Here is a list of other notables:

Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
Cespedes homered in his second, third and fourth MLB games, including one in the Oakland Athletics 4-1 win over the Seattle Mariners in Japan.

Yu Darvish, Rangers
In just his fourth MLB start, Darvish pitched 8 ⅓ scoreless innings against the New York Yankees, striking out 10 in a 2-0 Texas Rangers win. He’s recorded 12 wins so far this season, tying the Rangers rookie record done also by Chris Young (2005), Kevin Brown (1989), and Edwin Correa (1986).

Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox
Middlebrooks opened his career with an extra-base hit in each of his first five MLB games, the longest streak since Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter had a five-game streak to start his career in 1938.

Bryce Harper, Nationals
Harper made an instant splash as he became the fourth teenager since 1969 with an extra-base hit in his MLB debut (Jose Reyes 2003, Adrian Beltre 1998 & Ken Griffey Jr. 1989). Then just eight games into his MLB career Harper was credited with a steal of home in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, after being hit by a pitch from Cole Hamels.

Jose Quintana, White Sox
Quintana allowed one hit in 5 ⅔ IP of relief in his MLB debut. He then entered the Chicago White Sox rotation shortly thereafter, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his first six starts.

Derek Norris, Athletics
Elias says in his third MLB game, Norris became the third player in Athletics franchise history whose first career home run was a walk-off homer (the others were Dee Miles in 1939 and George Hendrick in 1972).

Yasmani Grandal, Padres
In his second MLB game, Grandal became the first player in history whose first two major-league hits were a pair of home runs, in the same game, from each side of the plate.

Matt Harvey, Mets
Harvey set a Mets record with 11 strikeouts in his debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Elias tells us he became the first pitcher since 1900 to have at least 10 strikeouts and record two hits in his MLB debut.

Starling Marte, Pirates
Batting leadoff, Marte homered on the first pitch he saw against the Houston Astros. He’s the first Pittsburgh Pirates player to hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat since Don Leppert vs the Cardinals on June 18, 1961.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezThe Giants hit just two home runs at home in July, both by Buster Posey.
ESPN's Home Run Tracker analyzes video of each home run hit this season and as far back as 2006. Each month, the tracker will detail the best and worst home runs, as well as some other interesting statistics pertaining to the long ball. With the exception of the final day of the month, below are the notable home runs for the month of July.

No Doubter of the Month: Longest true distance HR
June Winner: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers (484 feet)
July Winner: Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres (485 feet)
On July 2 at Chase Field, Maybin hit a 485-foot shot to left-center field. Not only was it the longest home run of his career, but the second-longest at Chase Field since ESPN began tracking home runs in 2006.

Wall-Scraper of the Month: Shortest true distance HR
June Winner: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (329 feet)
July Winner: Cody Ross, Boston Red Sox (338 feet)
On July 19 at Fenway Park, Ross hit an Addison Reed pitch into the monster seats for a walk-off home run. The 338-foot HR is the longest “wall-scarper” this season. It was Ross’ shortest home run since he hit one 337 feet off Hiroki Kuroda in 2008.

Moonshot of the Month: Highest apex HR (maximum vertical height ball reaches)
June Winner: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (152 feet)
July Winner: Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians (154 feet)
Hafner’s 363-foot HR off Ricky Romero on July 13 was the third-highest in 2012. The two home runs with higher apexes in 2012: 366-foot home run by Todd Helton on April 14 that had an apex of 162 feet, and a 419-foot bomb by Paul Goldschmidt on April 6 that reached a height of 156 feet.

Liner of the Month: Lowest apex HR
June Winner: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (43 feet)
July Winners: Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds and Casey Kotchman, Cleveland Indians (47 feet)
Ludwick’s 361-foot HR on July 14 was his lowest apex since the beginning of the tracker in 2006. Kotchman’s 354-foot shot on July 4 also had an apex of 47 feet, the lowest at Progressive Field since May of 2010.

Mother Nature: Most climate-impacted HR
June Winner: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (+67 feet)
July Winner: Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies (+50 feet)
On July 28, the wind was blowing out at Coors Field when Michael Cuddyer’s 363-foot home run was aided by a 13 mph wind. That carried the ball an extra 50 feet. Only four home runs at Coors Field have been more wind-aided since 2006.

Masher of the Month: Player with greatest average distance (min. 5 HR)
June Winner: Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks (425.8 feet)
July Winner: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (424.9 feet)
Cabrera’s nine home runs in July had an average distance of 424.9 feet, more than five feet more than the next closest player, Edwin Encarnacion. Four of Cabrera’s nine July home runs went at least 440 feet, including his 300th career HR, which went 457 feet.

Team Power Outage of the Month: Team with fewest HR
June Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers (6)
July Winner: San Francisco Giants (14)
After relinquishing the June award to their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants once again take the award for fewest home runs. The Giants hit just 14 in July, three more than the 11 the Giants hit in May. Only two of the Giants’ 14 HR in July were hit at home.

Why these hitters will headline the deadline

July, 24, 2012
The major league baseball trade deadline is just a week away (July 31 at 4 ET). Yesterday we looked at the available pitchers, and today we examine the hitters likely to be moved before the deadline.

Chase Headley
Why trade him?
Headley is relatively young (28), the San Diego Padres are in rebuilding mode, and he reportedly has many suitors around baseball. Though he’s affordable, the Padres may be interested in making room for prospects on the way up.

Why acquire him?
Headley is one of best regular third baseman in baseball and is not a free agent until after the 2014 season. He’s also been much more productive away Petco Park, hitting .307 with a .869 OPS on the road over the last two seasons compared to a .251 batting average and .692 OPS at home.

B.J. Upton
B.J. Upton
Why trade him?
B.J. Upton is a free agent at season’s end, and there’s some question as to whether the Tampa Bay Rays would re-sign him.

Why acquire him?
Upton is having one of the worst seasons of his career to this point, but his combination of moderate power and speed is rare. He is just one of three players to have at least 150 stolen bases and 90 homers combined since the start of 2007.

Justin Upton
Why trade him?
Upton finished fourth in the NL MVP vote last year but has yet to put together back-to-back star-level seasons. He’s owed $38.5 million from 2013-15, and the Arizona Diamondbacks could get multiple future/present contributors in a deal.

Why acquire him?
He has been regarded as a potential superstar since he was drafted, and his age (24) makes him appealing to contenders and rebuilders alike. However, he has struggled this year, and one issue has been his inability to turn on pitches on the inner half of the plate. After hitting 22 homers on those pitches in 2011, he has just two in 2012.

Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino
Why trade him?
Victorino is a free agent at the end of the 2012 season, and the Philadelphia Phillies are 14 games out of first place in the NL East and 11 back of the NL Wild Card.

Why acquire him?
Though he has struggled this year, Victorino has been among the most productive center fielders in baseball since the start of 2007. His WAR of 20.1 during that span is behind only Curtis Granderson among center fielders.

On Monday, the Florida Marlins traded second baseman Omar Infante and right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.

Omar Infante
Why did the Marlins trade him?
Infante was one of the few players on the Miami Marlins roster who was not a) a long-term piece or b) too expensive to move. He helped the Marlins add an asset or two for 2013 and beyond.

Why did the Tigers acquire him?
Infante is very affordable (owed $8 million for the rest of 2012 and 2013 combined) and has continued a multi-year trend of increasing his power output. His Isolated Power was just .084 in 2009 but has steadily risen to .155 in 2012, above the MLB average for second baseman (.126).

As you can see in the chart, the Tigers clearly needed offensive help at second base. Infante is a huge upgrade for a team with the worst OPS by second basemen this season at the time of the deal.

One season, one month, two cycles for Hill

June, 30, 2012
Benny Sieu/US PresswireAaron Hill became the fourth player in Major League Baseball history to hit for the cycle twice in the same season.
Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb are among the great hitters who never did it even once in their careers.

Aaron Hill now has hit a cycle twice in 12 days.

He's the first player with two cycles in the same season since Babe Herman in 1931.

Hill is the fourth player in Major League Baseball history with two cycles in the same season, joining Herman (1931 Brooklyn Robins), Tip O'Neill (1887 St. Louis Browns) and John Reilly (1883 Cincinnati Red Stockings).

Hill, whose previous cycle was June 18, is the second player in MLB history with two cycles in the same calendar month and the first since Reilly in September 1883.

The concept that Reilly accomplished this feat in 1883 and nobody else did for almost 129 years is incredible. It’s a rare gap between feats.

Let’s consider what was happening in the United States back in 1883:

• The president was Chester A. Arthur and there was no vice president.

• There were only 38 states.

• Basketball hadn’t been invented yet.

• The Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic in May.

• The first Metropolitan Opera House opened in October.

• The past 12 presidents weren’t even born yet, including Harry S. Truman, who was born in 1884.

• Airplanes had not yet been invented.

Hill now has as many cycles in the past 12 days as the entire Toronto Blue Jays franchise (his former team). He has more cycles in the past 12 days than the Tampa Bay Rays (1), San Diego Padres (0) and Miami Marlins (0) franchises combined.

How did Hill hit for the cycle Friday?

• In the first inning, he hit a ground-rule double off a fastball, his eighth double against a fastball this season.

• In the third inning, he singled to center off a slider. He was hitting .267 against sliders going into the game.

• In the fourth inning, he homered to left field off a curveball, his first home run off a curveball since June 19, 2011.

• In the sixth inning, he tripled to center field off a slider.

Hill is hitting .465 in his past 10 games with four home runs, 11 RBIs and a .953 slugging percentage. Eleven of his 20 hits are extra-base hits during that span.

No player in MLB history has had three cycles in the same season. The Arizona Diamondbacks still have 86 games left, so Hill has a chance to be the first to do so.

Breaking down Hamilton's homer barrage

May, 12, 2012

AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJosh Hamilton tied an MLB record with his 18th homer in the Rangers' 34th game Saturday.
Josh Hamilton homered for the ninth time in his past six games Saturday, sending C.J. Wilson’s 80 mph curveball into the right-field seats in the sixth inning of the Texas Rangers' 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

One key to Hamilton’s power surge has been his ability hit breaking balls out of the yard. After Saturday, Hamilton now has seven home runs on breaking balls this season, already his most in any season since joining the Rangers in 2008.

Hamilton is hitting .420 against breaking balls in 2012, a dramatic increase over his .260 average against such pitches a year ago. And his slugging percentage against curveballs and sliders is .860, dwarfing his 2011 mark of .468.

Hamilton’s sudden ability to smash breaking balls has helped him get off to one of the best starts to a season in major league history.

His 18 homers have tied Cy Williams of the 1923 Phillies for the most all-time through 34 team games. And with nine home runs in his past six games, Hamilton is just one shy of the MLB record for homers in a six-game span set by Frank Howard with 10 in 1968, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Hamilton’s 18 home runs this season are five more than the entire San Diego Padres team and one fewer than the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins.

Hamilton will look to continue his record run Sunday night against Jered Weaver and the Angels on ESPN. Hamilton has 34 career at-bats against Weaver, his second most against any pitcher, but just one home run.

Elsewhere in the majors Saturday:

• 2011 home run champ Jose Bautista hit his 10th career home run at Target Field in just his 10th game at the park. Only four players, all Twins, have more HR at Target Field since it opened in 2010. According to Elias, Bautista is the first player to hit 10 HR in his first 10 games in a ballpark since Shawn Green at Miller Park from 2001 to 2004.

• Roy Halladay took the loss after allowing seven hits and two runs in seven innings as the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the Padres. The Phillies have now lost each of Halladay’s past five starts. That ties the longest losing streak for a team in Roy Halladay starts, matching the Toronto Blue Jays' five-game losing streak in Halladay starts in 1999.

• The Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 4-1 for their second straight home win following a six-game losing streak at Fenway Park. It’s the first time the Red Sox have won back-to-back home games since April 13-15.
Cameron Maybin


On Saturday, Cameron Maybin agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the San Diego Padres. The deal will keep the 24-year-old in San Diego through at least his first free agent year.

It's been a long journey for the former first-round pick, who was drafted ahead of the likes of fellow outfielders Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury and was involved in trades for both a star (Miguel Cabrera) as well as two middle relievers (Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb). But now on his third team and fresh off his fifth season of Major League action, Maybin has found a home.

Maybin had the best season of his young career in 2011, posting a .265/.323 /.393 triple slash line and swiping a team-leading 40 bases. He also led the Padres in runs scored (82), total bases (203), and triples (8). He tied for the team lead in hits (136) and was tied for second in home runs (9). His 4.7 Wins Above Replacement ranked sixth among all center fielders last season and tied for sixth among Padres outfielders in the Wild Card era.

Despite the success, Maybin’s offensive numbers suffered from hitting in the cavernous Petco Park, which consistently ranks in the bottom-third of the Majors in home runs hit and runs scored according to ESPN’s Park Factors. He batted .231 at home last year compared to .294 on the road, and there was an even bigger discrepancy in his slugging percentage (.324 to .457).

But while his home park punishes his surface-level offensive numbers, it is that same home park that represents one of the reasons Maybin is so valuable to the Padres - centerfield defense. Few parks are as spacious in the outfield as Petco, and Maybin's ability to track down batted balls represented a significant portion of his value in 2011.

Baseball Info Solutions has worked to upgrade its defensive analysis, a re-tooling that will be unveiled in The Fielding Bible III. Suffice it to say, the adjusted defensive metrics suggest Maybin was one of the premier defensive players at his position in 2011 - he ranked tied for third in Defensive Runs Saved.

While Maybin's defensive value is evident and his offense progressed, the latter still has significant room for growth. Most notably, Maybin's issues with changeups provide a clear area for potential improvement.

Maybin chased almost 39 percent of soft pitches (changeups, sliders, curveballs) low and away out of the strike zone and had only two hits on 239 such pitches in 2011. That .038 BA ranked 131st out of 145 qualified hitters. Specific to the changeup, Maybin ranked among the bottom of the league in batting average, OPS and strikeout rate against that pitch over the last three seasons combined.

He did, however, improve against the changeup from 2010 to 2011 - he raised his batting average (.091 to .197) and his OPS (.182 to .505), while reducing his strikeout rate (46 percent to 27 percent). Maybin - and the Padres - hope the trend continues in 2012.