Stats & Info: Jason Bay
the Athletics in a must-win game
It is just the fourth time that an Oakland Athletics pitcher has put up a pitching line at least that good in postseason history and the first since Vida Blue threw a two-hit shutout against the Orioles in Game 3 of the 1974 ALCS.
Anderson Staying Grounded
Anderson got it done by keeping the ball on the ground. Of the 18 outs he recorded, 11 came on the ground and six were strikeouts.
The Tigers were kept off balance by Anderson’s breaking ball which ranged in velocity from 75 MPH to 86 MPH. All six of his strikeouts came with his faster breaking ball, all thrown between 83 and 84 MPH. Seventy-four percent of Anderson's breaking pitches were down in the zone or below it, the second-highest percentage of his career.
Crisp Steals Another Homer
The lone fly ball out Anderson got was dramatic as Coco Crisp robbed Prince Fielder of a would-be home run.
According to Baseball Info Solutions, Fielder has been robbed of a homer three times in 2012, more than any other player.
In addition to Crisp’s robbery Tuesday, he has seven regular-season HR robberies since 2004. Only three players have more regular-season HR robberies than him in that span (Torii Hunter 12, Jason Bay 9, Ichiro Suzuki 8).
For the Athletics, the shutout was the 11th in their postseason history and the first since Game 2 of the 2001 ALDS against the Yankees.
It is the first time they’ve allowed four hits or fewer in a postseason shutout since the 1981 ALDS against the Royals.
According to Elias, it was the eighth time a team used four or more pitchers in a nine-inning shutout while allowing no more than four hits in a postseason game. The last time came in Game 1 of the 2008 ALCS when the Red Sox blanked the Tampa Bay Rays behind Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon.
Courtesy of Marc Levine/New York Mets
Former New York Mets teammates Mike Piazza (2nd-left) and John Franco (4th-left) will take part in pregame ceremonies honoring the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11 prior to the Mets-Cubs game.
The New York Mets host the Chicago Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 ET on ESPN in the rubber game of a three-game series. Prior to the game, the Mets will hold a Sept. 11 Remembrance Ceremony.
Former closer John Franco will throw the first pitch to Mike Piazza, who hit a dramatic home run in the Mets 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21, 2001 – the first major league game in New York after the 9/11 terror attacks. In addition, a 300-foot-by-100 foot American flag will be unveiled; Marc Anthony – who sang the national anthem on Sept. 21, 2001 – will repeat the performance; and Queens native (and American Idol finalist) Pia Toscano will sing “God Bless America.”
On the mound
Matt Garza takes the mound for the Cubs, his first career start against the Mets. Garza is having the best season of his career, according to ERA. He has lowered his ERA nearly half a run from 3.91 last year to 3.52 this year.
However, the road hasn’t been kind to Garza this season. In 12 road starts, he’s 3-5 with a 4.84 ERA, more than double his home ERA (2.64). In addition, the opposition is hitting .279 against him on the road, compared to .230 in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.
For the Mets, 40-year-old Miguel Batista takes the mound. Batista - playing for his 10th MLB team (tied with Bruce Chen for the second-most teams played for among active pitchers, behind Octavio Dotel, 12) - earned his 100th career win in his first start with New York (Sept. 1).
Batista is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts this season (including one start with the St. Louis Cardinals on April 22). Batista’s last loss as a starter was July 19, 2008. He is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in eight starts since then.
Matchup to watch
Jason Bay is hitting just .218 (19-87) since August 13, despite hitting .452 (14-31) during his current nine-game hitting streak. Bay is 5-20 (including postseason) in his career against Garza, but hasn’t faced him since 2009, when he went 3-15. However, those three hits were all for extra bases (double and two triples).
Stat of the game
Starlin Castro leads the NL with 186 hits and is projected to finish with more than 200 this season. He would be the first Cubs player to have a 200-hit season before turning age 22.
Sean Burroughs led Long Beach, CA to consecutive LLWS titles in 1992 and 1993, the first -and only - U.S. team to accomplish the feat.
For two weeks in August the kids become the stars in Williamsport at the Little League World Series (coverage begins Thursday, August 18 on ESPN and ESPN2). For some it’s the beginning of bigger things to come. We give you the best Little Leaguers to become big leaguers.
LHP - Wilson Alvarez, 1982 Maracaibo, Venezuela
• In his second LLWS start Alvarez struck out 15 batters while allowing only two hits in a win over Madrid, Spain. Second starts were good to Alvarez who pitched a no-hitter in his second career start in the Majors.
RHP - Jason Marquis, 1991 Staten Island, NY
• Marquis pitched a three-hit shutout while striking out 11 hitters against Ohio in the U.S. Semifinals. He also added three hits and drove in three runs in the game which came on his 13th birthday.
Catcher - Jason Varitek, 1984 Altamonte Springs, FL
• Varitek’s Little League team lost in the LLWS final. He was also on the Georgia Tech team that lost the College World Series final in 1994 and two Boston Red Sox World Series winning teams. Varitek is one of only two players (Ed Vosberg the other) to have played in all three World Series (LLWS, College, MLB).
1B - John "Boog" Powell, 1954 Lakeland, FL
• Powell faced Jim Barbieri in two World Series: The first at the 1954 Little League World Series when Powell lost to Barbieri's team from Schenectady, NY. The second was in 1966, when Powell's Baltimore Orioles swept Barbieri's Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
2B - Todd Frazier, 1998 Toms River, NJ
• Frazier went 4-4, with a HR in the LLWS Championship Game win over Japan. He pitched as well, striking out a batter to end the game. Frazier finished the LLWS batting .600 with four HR. He made his MLB debut this season with the Cincinnati Reds.
3B - Carney Lansford, 1969 Santa Clara, CA
• Lansford started in right field and went 1-3 in a LLWS championship game loss against Chinese Taipei. Lansford went on to be the fourth MLB player to play in the LLWS and MLB World Series.
SS - Gary Sheffield, 1980 Tampa, FL
• Sheffield hit a HR and drove in five runs in a U.S. Championship game win before falling short in the LLWS champion game against Taiwan. Sheffield is the only player in the 500-HR club who played in the LLWS.
LF - Jason Bay, 1990 British Columbia, Canada
• Bay scored Canada's only run against eventual LLWS Champion Chinese Taipei. He became the first Canadian Little Leaguer to play in the Little League World Series and play Major League Baseball.
RF - Derek Bell, 1980-81 Tampa, FL
• In 1981, Bell drove in three runs as Tampa earned a spot in the LLWS final. Bell pitched in the final vs Chinese Taipei, striking out five batters in the first two innings before eventually taking the loss.
CF - Colby Rasmus, 1999 Phenix City, AL
• Rasmus struck out 13 batters picking up a win to clinch a spot for Phenix City in the LLWS. Phenix City went on to win the U.S. Championship before falling to Japan in the LLWS final. His brother Cory, also a first round pick, played on that Phenix City team as well.
DH - Sean Burroughs, 1992-93 Long Beach, CA
• Burroughs led Long Beach to consecutive LLWS titles, the first U.S. team to accomplish the feat. He pitched two no-hitters at the Little League World Series.
Manager - Lloyd McClendon, 1971 Gary, Indiana
• McClendon hit five home runs on the first pitch in his only five official at bats, leading Gary to the LLWS title. McClendon is the manager of our team as he managed some other notable LLWS participants -- Bay and Bell -- on the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001.
Quick Hits: Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced that, effective immediately, minor league players will be subject to random blood testing for the detection of human growth hormone under Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Major League Baseball is the first United States professional sports league to conduct blood testing. All blood samples will be collected postgame from the non-dominant arms of randomly selected non-40-man roster players at select Minor League affiliates.
Carl Pavano pitched a five-hitter to earn his career-high seventh straight victory as the Twins beat the Orioles 5-0. In 32 starts since coming to Minnesota in a trade with Cleveland during the 2009 season, Pavano is 17-10 with 5 complete games. After signing a 4-year, $39.95 million deal with the Yankees in December of 2004, Pavano made only 26 starts for New York, going 9-8 with one complete game.
Cliff Lee allowed two runs in 8 1/3 IP in the Rangers' 3-2 win over Los Angeles. Lee - who won for the first time in three starts since joining the Rangers - extended his streak of at least eight IP and one or fewer walks to 7 straight starts. In the divisional era (since 1969), only Ferguson Jenkins in 1974 had a longer streak (eight).
The Kansas City Royals traded third baseman Alberto Callaspo to the Los Angeles Angels for two pitchers Thursday: Sean O’Sullivan and minor-league lefty Will Smith. According to the Kansas City Star, plans call for O’Sullivan, 22, to join the big-league rotation — possibly as soon as Sunday’s series finale at Yankee Stadium. O’Sullivan made his season debut Tuesday against the Yankees (despite knowing he was being called up, he did not know until he got to New York that he was starting that night). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only four other pitchers since 2000 have started against one team...for two different teams (within a span of seven days or less): In 2000, Andy Ashby started against Baltimore while pitching for the Phillies and Braves; Kris Benson in 2004 started against the Braves as a Pirate and a Met; Cory Lidle threw against the Rockies as a member of the Reds and Phillies in 2004; and Carl Pavano faced Detroit in 2009 as an Indian and a Twin.
From ESPN Stats and Information: Red Sox starter John Lackey threw 7 2/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Mariners before allowing a Josh Bard single. That tied the longest no-hit bid for the Red Sox this season. Daisuke Matsuzaka also went 7 2/3 IP with a no-hitter on May 22 at the Phillies. Lackey represents the 13th time a pitcher has taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning this season. So that means 33 percent of the previous 12 instances ended up finishing off the no-hitter.
Additional Notes from ESPN Stats and Information: Jason Bay is being overly aggressive against fastballs compared to previous years. And in this month, he's striking out frequently and unable to get the ball in the air, which obviously doesn't help his chances of hitting more homers.
Before his injury this season, opponents were hitting .500 (10-20) against Josh Beckett’s change-up. Last season, opponents hit just .198 against Beckett's change.
Opponents are hitting .250 (10-40) against Randy Wells' fastball in July after hitting .348 (63-181) against the right-hander's heater in the first 3 months of the season.
Opposing batters are only hitting .200 (9-45) off Mark Buehrle's fastball this month (MLB avg .279) after hitting .377 (29-77) off heater in June.
Joe Saunders is walking just 4 percent of his batters faced in July (3/82) compared to 10 percent during the first three months.
In Vicente Padilla's first five starts (through June 19) opponents hit .325 (25/77) against his fastball. In his last five starts (since June 19) opponents have hit .165 (13/79) against his fastball.
Johan Santana looks to continue his July success. From April through June (5-5, 3.55 ERA in 16 starts), opponents hit .286 (61/213) against his fastball. In July (2-0, 0.58 ERA, 4 starts) opponents have hit .175 (11/63) against his fastball.
C.J. Wilson: On first pitch of the at bat: .333 BA, .854 OPS, PA/EBH 11.5. On all others: .230 BA, .603 OPS, PA/EBH: 18.92
Notable Elias Sports Bureau notes from Thursday night:
As mentioned above, the Twins defeated the Orioles, 5–0. That raised their record against Kevin Millwood to 9–0. That’s the most victories without a loss by any team against an active pitcher, breaking a tie with the Dodgers, who are 8–0 against Matt Cain. The Senators/Twins franchise won its first nine or more decisions against only three other pitchers: Sid Monge (their first 10, 1975–1981), Ted Blankenship (1922–1925), and Gordon Rhodes (1929–1933).
Josh Johnson lowered his ERA to 1.61, allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings in the Marlins’ 3–2 win over the Rockies. But for the fifth time this season, Florida’s bullpen cost Johnson a victory. That tied Johnny Cueto for the highest total in the majors this season, and it matched Johnson’s total of squandered wins in 2009. In fact, he’s the first pitcher in the Marlins’ 17-year history to lose five or more potential wins in consecutive seasons. It was also the fifth time this season that Johnson failed to win a start in which he allowed fewer than two runs. The only other pitchers with at least five such starts are John Santana (six), Gavin Floyd (five), and Randy Wells (five).
Matt Holliday’s fourth-inning single off Cole Hamels was the Cardinals’ only hit in the Phillies’ 2–0, 11-inning win at St. Louis on Thursday. It was only the third game since 1900 that went beyond the 10th inning in which a team allowed only one hit. One was the game in 1959 in which Harvey Haddix of the Pirates was perfect through 12 innings before losing, 1–0, to the Braves, with Joe Adcock’s baserunning blunder turning a potential home run into a game-winning double. The other was a 2–1 Yankees victory over the Angels in 1962 in which Whitey Ford pitched seven hitless innings and Jim Coates allowed a ninth-inning single to Buck Rodgers. That was also the game in which Roger Maris set an AL record that still stands when he was walked intentionally four times.
Derek Jeter hit his first inside-the-park home run since his rookie season in the Yankees’ 10-4 win over the Royals. Jeter’s previous inside-the-parker was also against Kansas City (Aug. 2, 1996). Only two other active players have more than one IPHR against the same team: Randy Winn against the Yankees and Chase Utley against the Reds (2 each). At age 36, Jeter became the oldest Yankees player to hit an inside-the-park home run since Earle Combs did it against the Washington Senators in 1935. Combs was 20 days older at the time than Jeter was on Thursday.
Today’s Leaderboard: As we know, Alex Rodriguez is 1 HR shy of becoming only the 7th player in baseball history to hit 600 career HR. A-Rod would probably prefer to hit the milestone HR in front of adoring Yankee fans rather than on the road (the Yankees start seven-game road trip through Cleveland and Tampa Bay on Monday). Luckily for A-Rod, there are 3 more games this weekend against Kansas City, a team he hit milestone HR No. 1 and 500 against (he also hit HR No. 499 and 599 against KC).
A-Rod’s 41 career HR against the Royals are second-most among active players and tied for 2nd with Rafael Palmeiro among ALL players.
Key Matchup: Brian Bannister takes the hill Friday night for the Royals at Yankee Stadium. Among pitchers he has faced at least 10 times in his career, Alex Rodriguez's best AB per HR rate is against Bannister. Overall, A-Rod is hitting .571 (4-for-7) with 3 HR and 6 RBI while posting a 1.857 slugging percentage against the righty. According to ESPN Stats and Information, on Bannister’s most common pitch, the fastball, Rodriguez is batting .500 with a 2.000 slugging percentage, .600 on-base percentage and two home runs in four at-bats.
Trivia Answer: Alex Rodriguez hit his first career HR on June 12, 1995 against Tom Gordon. His 500th career HR was on August 4, 2007 off Kyle Davies.
Baserunning, on the other hand...
No matter which game you watched, there was bound to be at least one of those "head-scratcher" plays. The ones where you look at your TV and say, "what was he thinking?" At the risk of Monday-morning, er, Sunday-night quarterbacking, we present a sampling of the unnecessary, and sometimes obscure, outs that were run into on the basepaths Sunday.
Tampa: Justin Upton on third. Chris Young grounds back to the pitcher. Upton gets run back and tagged out. Young thinks the defense isn't paying attention and tries to take second, where he's also tagged out.
Tampa: Pinch runner Carl Crawford doubled off first when Sean Rodriguez lines one to third base.
Chicago: Gordon Beckham strikes out, but his backswing gets in the way of Geovany Soto as he tries to nail a stealing Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez gets called out for the interference of his teammate.
Cincinnati: Corky Miller thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Anaheim: Jason Giambi thrown out at third trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
New York: Jeff Francoeur thrown out trying to tag and take third on a ball to shallow right.
Oakland: Jose Tabata's ground ball hits runner Pedro Alvarez between first and second. Oh, by the way, it's the final out of a one-run game.
(Bonus question: If you're keeping score, how do you write THAT down?)
Florida: Jorge Cantu is called for interference while trying to break up a double play at second base. The batter, Dan Uggla, is called out as a result.
Milwaukee: Rickie Weeks thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Baltimore: Miguel Tejada thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Baltimore: In the bottom of the eighth in a tie game, Julio Lugo legs out a double and then immediately gets himself picked off second.
(Bonus answer: Infield single for the batter. The putout is awarded to the closest fielder, in this case the first baseman.)
** The trunk with the Mets' bats in it finally arrived back at Citi Field. Six consecutive Mets batters went double, homer, homer, triple, single, single, during the fifth inning on Sunday. That's 15 total bases in a single inning. The Mets hadn't had 15 total bases in a GAME since last Tuesday.
** The aforementioned triple was off the bat of Jason Bay, marking his 1,000th career hit. The last time a player had a triple for his 1,000th career hit was almost exactly three years ago, when then-Oriole Aubrey Huff did it on June 29, 2007.
** The Pirates committed four errors and managed to lose Sunday's game to Oakland without allowing an earned run. Even for them, that's impressive. They haven't done that since June 29, 2002, when the Tigers scored on a missed catch at home plate and a passed ball to beat them 2-1.
** One afterthought on the Oakland/Pittsburgh series: On Saturday, the two teams donned "throwback" uniforms from the 1970s. (They say styles have a 30-year cycle, so watch for neon green to make a comeback soon.) But you have to forgive those two teams for wanting to "turn back the clock". During the '70s they combined for five world championships, including four straight from 1971-74. Since then, they have ONE (Oakland's in '89).
** Jamie Moyer didn't quite pitch IN the '70s, but at the rate he's going, he might well pitch INTO his 70s. Moyer became the all-time leader in home runs allowed on Sunday when Vernon Wells took him deep in the third inning.
Bonus question #2: Those 42 parks include ALL of the current 30 stadiums except two. We'll spot you Target Field because it just opened. What's the other current park where Moyer has yet to surrender a dinger? ** After being no-hit by Edwin Jackson on Friday, the Rays put together a two-hit attack against Arizona on Sunday. They did at least score a run this time. Ironically, the last team that was held to two or fewer hits twice in a series was these same Diamondbacks. That was in late May against the Giants.
** Combined with their amazing five-hit performance on Saturday, the Rays ended up with seven base hits over the entire three-game series. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the last team to finish with seven or fewer hits in a three-game series was the 1965 New York Mets. They were one-hit by the Milwaukee Braves on both September 10 and 11 before "exploding" for five hits (and a 1-0 victory!) in the series finale on the 12th.
Bonus answer #2: Busch Stadium in St Louis. Moyer surrendered three long balls in the PRIOR Busch Stadium (which closed in 2005), but has made only two visits to the current building.
Quick Hits: A player’s history in a given month isn’t always a harbinger of things to come. Just ask Adam LaRoche, a .195 career hitter in April, who is hitting .299 thus far. Or how about Troy Tulowitzki? He came into the season with a .194 April batting average, but is currently hitting at a .318 clip. But for every surprise, there are several players who are true to form. Jhonny Peralta and Gavin Floyd are characteristically starting slow, while Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome are off to traditionally hot starts. So what does history tell us that May has in store?
* Cody Ross has only played 51 games in May, but he has 15 home runs. Only Ryan Howard hits them out more frequently in May.
* Even though it’s his worst month from a batting average perspective, an incredible 40 of Howard’s 97 hits have been home runs.
* Ichiro Suzuki is a .365 hitter in May, best among active players and his highest average in any month.
* Hunter Pence is a .358 hitter in May and a .270 hitter in every other month.
* Brian McCann has a .350 May average and just .283 otherwise.
* May is when it usually all falls apart for Howie Kendrick. A .321 hitter in April, Kendrick has hit just .171 in the second month of the season. No non-pitcher with 100 plate appearances in May has a lower average.
* Jason Bay loves May. He has 45 home runs in the month, 10 more than he has in any other month. His 1.008 May OPS is behind only Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman among those with 200 plate appearances.
* Troy Tulowitzki only has two home runs in 55 career games in May.
* Felix Hernandez is just 6-12 in May with a 5.25 ERA. It’s his only month with a losing record or an ERA over 3.50.
* Mike Pelfrey is just 2-9 in the month and 30-23 otherwise.
* Hideki Okajima has a mind-blowing 0.68 ERA in 40.0 career May innings.
* Pitching in the majors for the first time since 2007, Colby Lewis is 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA. Let’s see how he fares in May though. Lewis has a 12.69 career ERA in the month.
* With 164 wins, the Red Sox were the winningest team of last decade in May. They had nine more wins than the Yankees.
Today’s Leaderboard: Tim Lincecum, a perfect 7-0 in May, is the only active pitcher with 10 starts in the month that has never lost.
Key Matchups: Alex Rodriguez is hitless in his last 19 at-bats. Good thing Freddy Garcia is coming to town. Rodriguez has reached base in six consecutive plate appearances against the White Sox starter. In his career, A-Rod has five home runs and a 1.485 OPS against Garcia. That is the second highest OPS against Garcia among those with 20 plate appearances and Bobby Higginson is the only other player with five homers.
Jeff Niemann simply dominated the Royals last season. He went 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA, striking out 16 and walking only one in 17 innings. The lone blemish was a solo home run by David DeJesus. In fact, current members of the Royals have hit just .089 against Niemann. As a staff, the Rays were 9-1 with a 2.40 ERA against Kansas City last season.
Trivia Answer: Tug McGraw won 47 for the Mets and then was traded to Philadelphia where he won 49 games. Meanwhile, Jerry Koosman is one of the only three Mets pitchers with 100 wins. He finished his career off with the Phillies, winning 20 games over two seasons.
However, despite the encouraging signs from his recent hitting streak, he has yet to find his power stroke this season. Bay is still looking for his first home run of 2010 – he hit 36 home runs last season - and is slugging a mediocre .369 through the first 18 games of the season. It’s early, but why is Bay unable to bash the ball this season like he did last year?
A quick look at his power numbers by side of field shows one reason for his weak-hitting start this year. According to Fangraphs, in 2009, Bay slugged .912 to left field, well above the MLB average of .637 for right-handed batters, and his isolated power (which measures a hitter's pure power, in terms of the number of extra bases hit per at-bat) to left was .466, nearly 200 points better than the MLB average of .282 for righties. However, so far in 2010, Bay is slugging just .391 to left field and his isolated power to left is a tiny .043.
But there is some reason for optimism in these numbers, as Bay appears to be hitting for more power to center and the opposite field this year than in 2009. His slugging percentage to right of .500 is nearly equal to that of last year’s .533 and his .923 slugging percentage to center in 2010 is way above his .670 mark in 2009.
A look at his batted ball profile by side of field adds another layer to the discussion of Bay’s power outage this season. According to Fangraphs, this season, only 8.7% of his balls hit in play to left field have been flyballs, which is a fraction of the MLB average of 23.6% for a righty and well below the 29.2% flyball percentage
But that’s not the whole story…there is some more good news for Bay here. This season, he has a line drive rate of 30.4% to left which is much higher than the MLB average of 19.4% and also better than his line drive rate of 22.6% last year. Based on these numbers, it appears that Bay is actually pulling the ball with a lot of authority, but that has yet to translate into a high slugging percentage or any longballs.
Be sure to tune into ESPN at 8 ET to see if Bay can finally hit one over the fence, as the Mets and Braves face off on Sunday Night Baseball.
Quick Hits: Over their last five games, the Red Sox are 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position, which has certainly contributed to the fact that they haven’t held a lead in their last 48 innings. Over that same stretch, the Nationals are hitting .408 with RISP, and have won four of their last five. Here are some quick hits on RISP:
* Jason Heyward is 8-for-11 (.727) with runners in scoring position, and just 5-for-32 (.156) otherwise. He leads the majors in batting average and OPS with RISP.
* Tim Lincecum is actually 2-for-2 with RISP and has already matched last season’s RBI total (3).
* Scott Podsednik’s 10 hits with RISP lead the majors, but all 10 are singles, so he only has six RBI in those situations.
* Among those still hitless with RISP? Kevin Kouzmanoff (0-15), Adam Dunn (0-12), Carlos Lee (0-10).
* Gary Matthews Jr. has 15 plate appearances with RISP. He does have one hit, but is still without an RBI in those situations.
* Jose Bautista is just 2-10 with RISP, but has walked eight times, which gives him a .526 on-base percentage.
* Matt Capps has held opponents hitless (0-11) with RISP, but has walked five.
* The Cardinals have held opponents to an MLB-best .172 BA with RISP, while the Cubs are in the basement at .340.
* As a group, the Red Sox outfield is 3-for-31 with RISP.
* Over their first eight games, the Astros hit .157 with runners in scoring position. Since then, they are hitting .444 with RISP, and have won three of four.
* The Rays are hitting an MLB-best .324 with RISP, but just .221 with the bases empty.
* With two outs and runners in scoring position, the Orioles are 5-53 (.094).
Today’s Leaderboard: The Rays’ .324 batting average with RISP is far and away the best in the majors. The Yankees are tied for fifth at .286. But the rest of the AL East has not fared so well, as the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Orioles are all hitting under .200 and rank in the bottom five.
Key Matchups: When you look at the active players who have had the most success against Tim Wakefield, one common trait sticks out: Free swingers. Among active players with at least 15 plate appearances against the knuckleballer, the top three in OPS are Aaron Rowand, Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Lopez. Guerrero faces Wakefield Tuesday looking to improve on a lifetime .429 average with five home runs. There was a point five years ago when Wakefield wouldn’t even bother. In 2005, he intentionally walked Guerrero four times in seven plate appearances. In total, Wakefield has intentionally walked Guerrero five times, three more than any other batter he has faced.
For Jason Bay, one of the perks to returning the National League is the chance to face Carlos Zambrano with regularity. As a rookie in 2003, Bay had his breakout game against the Cubs righty with two home runs to go with eight RBI. Bay hasn’t let up since. He has five career home runs against Zambrano, tied for his most against any pitcher. No hitter has more RBI against Zambrano than Bay’s 16.
Trivia Answer: Willie Mays turned 20 during his rookie campaign, and is the youngest position player to win the award in the NL. Jason Heyward turns 21 in August.
Quick Hits: Some players have already entered uncharted waters this season.
* James Loney has stolen third base three times this season, which leads the majors. Loney had never even attempted to steal third prior to this season.
* In 16 plate appearances, Ryan Raburn has been hit by three pitches. In 669 plate appearances entering the season, he’d only been hit twice.
* Jeff Mathis already has two bunt hits. Last season, Gerald Laird was the only catcher with more than two bunt hits. He had seven.
* Howie Kendrick has grounded into four double plays, tied for the most in the MLB. Last year, Kendrick only had eight GIDPs.
* Chris Young has three game-winning RBI. He had four all of last season.
* In 8 2/3 innings Tyler Clippard has allowed three sacrifice flies, tied for the MLB lead. He had allowed one sacrifice fly in his first 97 2/3 innings.
* David Price has allowed two triples. He had never allowed a triple before this season.
* Trevor Hoffman has already allowed more extra-base hits (8) than he did all of last season (7).
* Chris Carpenter has already been the victim of more unearned runs (2) than he was all of last season (1).
* Ryan Rowland-Smith went all of last season (96 1/3 innings) without allowing a stolen base. He has already allowed two this season.
Today’s Leaderboard: In his debut, opponents swung at 38.7 percent of Mike Leake’s first pitches. That’s the third highest rate among starers this season. Given the seven walks he issued in his debut, that seems destined to change today.
Key Matchups: When Jason Bay opted to return to the National League, he had to know it meant facing Chris Carpenter again. As NL Central rivals, they clashed regularly from 2004 to 2006, with Carpenter often coming out on top. Bay is a career .077 hitter against Carpenter with 12 strikeouts in 26 at-bats. He is hitless in his last eight at-bats with six strikeouts. No pitcher has struck him out more (Doug Davis also has 12 K), and the .077 average is Bay’s worst against a pitcher he has faced 20 times.
It’s a similar story for Carlos Pena against Josh Beckett. Last season, Pena struck out in all eight at-bats against Beckett, though he did manage a walk. Overall, Pena is 3-for-25 with 16 strikeouts against Beckett.
Trivia Answer: Jose Canseco (462), Joe Carter (396), Orlando Cepeda (379) and Norm Cash (377) are the only players beginning in C with more homers than Colavito (374), who is the next player Albert Pujols will pass on the all-time list.
Clippard’s final stat line: 3 IP, H, 0 ER, 7 K (all swinging)
Not only did Clippard match his career high in total strikeouts in a game (7/25/09 vs SD), but it was the most swinging strikeouts he has produced in his career. Judging from his career success against the Mets hitters who struck out, we shouldn’t be surprised.
Of the 40 pitches that Clippard threw Saturday, 29 of them were strikes (73 percent). This was considerably better than his career rate of 59 percent. In addition to the pitches that were swung on and missed, Clippard’s ability to get the Mets hitters to chase pitches outside of the zone was a key to his success.
The Atlanta Braves scored 16 runs against the Cubs, nearly matching how many runs they scored (18) in six games against the Chicago Cubs last season. Braves rookie Jason Heyward homered in his first career plate appearance and became the fourth player in the last 30 years to hit a home run in his first career plate appearance on opening day.
Heyward's speed off the bat for his home run was 120.9 MPH. In all of the past four seasons, only six players hit a homer that had a faster speed than Heyward's. And that's the fastest exit speed against Carlos Zambrano since 2006.
The Texas Rangers had their first walk-off win on Opening Day since 1980, when Rich Gossage of the New York Yankees threw a wild pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning in a Rangers 1-0 win. On Monday, the Rangers won with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th. They won only twice all of last season in games which they trailed entering the 9th inning.
Jason Bay's tripled in his debut for the New York Mets. It was a triple to left center field. There were several triples to left field in Citi Field last year, But there was only one hit into that left-center gap. And that was hit by a pitcher - Nelson Figeuroa!
Despite all the offense, there was some pretty good pitching on display.
Johan Santana had his change up working again. Batters were 0-for-6 on Monday vs his change up with three strikeouts. From 2007-08, Santana's strike out percentage was 37.8 with his change up. Last year it dipped to 28.8 percent. On Monday it was 42.9 percent.
Roy Halladay saw hitters swing and miss 16 times on 42 swings (38%). The Philadelphia Phillies righty saw his highest swing-and-miss percentage be at its highest in a single start since 2007.
Tim Lincecum picked up from where he left off in 2009. He got hitters to chase nearly 47% of his pitches out of the zone on Monday. Hitters chased 27% of his pitches out of the zone from 2007-09.
Dan Haren didn't allow a single leadoff hitter to reach base - 4 ground outs, 2 strikeouts and a flyout; and all that came on his fastball. Haren retired 18 of 19 hitters in first six innings (including 14 consecutive). A key factor was that the Arizona Diamondbacks righty threw two of his first three pitches for strikes 89% of the time (MLB average in 2009 was 60%).
As the transition toward defense-first outfielders takes place, we’re still left with remnants of the last decade, the softball players who can mash a baseball but can't track one down. Even as teams more aggressively move these players to first base or DH, there is still a group of guys who make things interesting every time the ball is hit in the air. Here are the five worst outfielders in baseball from 2007-2009, and their UZR per 150 games.
Brad Hawpe, RF, Rockies: -33.0
Manny Ramirez, LF, Dodgers: -16.0
Delmon Young, LF, Twins: -14.1
Jason Bay, LF, Mets: -13.6
Michael Cuddyer, RF, Twins: -12.4
Yes, that's right, over the course of 150 games, Hawpe is 33 runs worse than the average rightfielder.
This fraternity of all-bat/no-glove outfielders has thinned out a bit with the move of Adam Dunn to first base and Jermaine Dye’s inability to find an employer, but these five still fly the banner for hulking sluggers in the outfield. Hawpe, Ramirez and Bay certainly hit well enough to still have value despite their misadventures in the field, but Young has actually performed below replacement-level the last few seasons, meaning his negative performance on defense has actually outweighed his offensive contributions, which have also been minimal.
Young seems to have gotten the message, dropping 30 pounds over the winter and reporting to camp in the proverbial “best shape of his life”. It will be interesting to see if it’s enough to keep the Twins pitching staff from cringing, however, as teammate Cuddyer is almost as bad. Perhaps that’s why Minnesota locked up centerfielder Denard Span to a long-term deal last week. Considering he's flanked by Young and Cuddyer, he's going to have to catch practically everything opponents hit to the outfield in 2010.
Dave Cameron is a writer for FanGraphs.