Stats & Info: John McDonald

Lowe gets grounded in Cleveland

November, 6, 2011
The Hot Stove season kicked off last week as free agency officially began when the clock struck midnight on Thursday. Let’s take a look at a few notable transactions from the past few days.

Derek Lowe Traded to Indians
The Indians made the first trade of the 2011-12 offseason, acquiring the sinkerballer Lowe from the Atlanta Braves for minor-leaguer Chris Jones. The Braves also agreed to pay two-thirds of Lowe’s $15 million salary for 2012.

With the addition of Lowe, the Indians continue to build a groundball-heavy staff. Three of the Indians starters from 2011 ranked among the top 20 in the AL among starting pitchers in groundball rate. Lowe, who induced grounders 60 percent of the time, topped them all with the Braves last season.

Lowe struggled last year, losing a career-high 17 games and posting a 5.05 ERA, fifth-highest among major-league qualifying pitchers. However, there is reason for Cleveland fans to be optimistic that Lowe may be able to bounce back in 2012.

Lowe last year likely suffered from some bad luck. His .327 batting average on balls in play was well above his career mark of .295, and he stranded fewer than 60 percent of baserunners for just the second time in his career. If those numbers regress to his career norms, Lowe could easily see an improvement in his ERA next season.

Juan Rivera Signs with Dodgers
The Dodgers made the first splash in free agency with their signing of Rivera to a one-year, $4.5 million dollar contract.

It’s somewhat surprising that Rivera received that much money. His OPS of .710 since the start of 2010 is the fourth-lowest among first basemen and corner outfielders over the last two seasons (min. 900 PA).

John McDonald Signs with Diamondbacks
McDonald, who was traded to Arizona in August last year and started 15 games at shortstop with them, signed a two-year, $3 million deal with the Diamondbacks. McDonald brings little to the plate, with a .577 OPS last year that ranked 302nd out of 316 players with at least 240 PA.

McDonald, however, is a skilled defensive player who had nine Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop last year in just 264 innings. Only six shortstops saved more runs with their glove last year, and five of them played over 1,000 innings each.

Jim Thome Signs with Phillies
Thome will be returning to Philadelphia next year after signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Phillies. Thome hit 96 of his 604 career homers in three seasons with the Phillies, and the first two of those seasons were among the most productive of his career. Only one person hit more homers than Thome's 89 dingers in 2003 and 2004: Barry Bonds (90).

With Ryan Howard recovering from an achilles' injury he suffered on the final play of the Phillies season, the team could need an adequate fill-in at first base for part of 2012.

While Thome hasn't played first base since 2007, his bat compares favorably to Howard's. Over the last two seasons, Thome's .939 OPS is seventh-best among players with at least 500 PA, while Howard's .847 ranks 35th.

1st pitch: The most without…

April, 23, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Justin Smoak, a South Carolina native, is expected to make his MLB debut on Friday. Who has the most career home runs for a player born in South Carolina?

Quick Hits: Reggie Willits appeared in his 300th game on Thursday, and a career-long trend continued. He went 0-for-3, and still does not have a home run in his career. The active position player with the next most career games without a homer is Jose Morales with 55. In fact, Willits has more career plate appearances without a home run (819) than any pitcher. Ryan Dempster is next at 518. So with that in mind, and the help of STATS, here are some notable “most withouts” among active players:

* Angel Pagan has the most plate appearances (881) without being hit by a pitch.

* Chase Utley has 83 stolen bases, but has never even tried to steal third.

* Alex Rios has the most stolen bases (120) for a player that has never been picked off.

* Ryan Garko has been on base more times (602) than any other player without a stolen base.

* John McDonald has nearly twice as many plate appearances (1,889) as the next player who has never been intentionally walked.

* Ramon Castro has the most plate appearances (1,400) without a triple.

* Edinson Volquez has the most plate appearances (77) without a walk. Tommy Manzella (45) has the most for a position player.

* Ryan Perry has the most appearances (60) and innings (69 2/3) without a win.

* Cla Meredith has the most relief appearances (270) without a save.

* Scott Olsen and Claudio Vargas have the most starts (114) without a complete game.

* Andrew Bailey has pitched the most innings (88 1/3) without hitting a batter.

* Jon Garland has pitched the most innings (1,851 1/3) without a balk.

* Carlos Silva has the most innings (1,147 2/3) without a pickoff. Interestingly, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are next.

* George Sherrill has the most innings (256) without allowing a triple.

* Brad Ziegler has the most innings (142) without a wild pitch.

Today’s Leaderboard: In the spirit of today’s theme, CC Sabathia’s 292 starts are the most for an active pitcher without a relief appearance. He’s followed by Ben Sheets (225) and Jake Peavy (219). Carlos Zambrano has 21 relief appearances to his name, but none since 2002. His streak of 241 straight appearances as a starter is likely to be broken this weekend. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Zambrano’s streak is the fifth longest among active pitchers. Livan Hernandez’s last 415 appearances have been as a starter.

Key Matchups: The top five hitters that the Royals used yesterday are 41-94 lifetime against Carl Pavano. That’s a .436 batting average. It’s no wonder that Pavano is just 4-5 with a 7.84 ERA in his career against Kansas City.

Adrian Beltre is just 1-for-18 in his career against Jeremy Guthrie. That .056 batting average is his worst against any pitcher he has at least 20 plate appearances against.

Whenever Albert Pujols meets Tim Lincecum, it warrants mentioning. Pujols is 3-for-8 in his career against Lincecum, but has just one hit in their last seven meetings at the plate.

Trivia Answer: Jim Rice’s 382 home runs are the most for a player born in South Carolina. He’s followed by Reggie Sanders (305). The active leader? Orlando Hudson with 78.