Stats & Info: Jorge Cantu

A look back at last year's trade deadline

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
9:40
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With two days before the July 31 trade deadline, it's worth taking a look back at what happened in the week leading up to last year's deadline.

• There were 25 trades made last year from July 25-31, and more than half (13) took place on the day of the deadline.

• The two most notable players who were dealt were starting pitchers Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt, and both improved considerably with their new teams.
Roy Oswalt
Oswalt
After being traded from Arizona to the Angels, Haren’s ERA went from 4.60 to 2.87, and his WHIP dropped from 1.35 to 1.16. Oswalt was 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA with the Houston Astros before being shipped to the Phillies. In Philadelphia, Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and a WHIP under one (0.90).

• 13 of the 25 trades made in the final week of July involved at least one playoff team.

• Eight of those 25 trades involved a major-league reliever. In six of those deals, the team acquiring a reliever ultimately made the playoffs.

• Many of the 25 trades were minor. The eventual American League champion Texas Rangers dealt catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox and traded for Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman. Cantu was 0-for-8 in the postseason and Guzman did not even make the Rangers' playoff roster.
A preview of Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers.

FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: The last 12 teams to win the first two games of a World Series at home went on to win the championship. The 1981 Yankees were the last team to lose a Series after winning Games 1 and 2, both at home. That year, Los Angeles went on to win the next three games at Dodger Stadium and closed out the Series at Yankee Stadium with a 9-2 victory in Game 6.

FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: San Francisco has outscored Texas 20-7 through Games 1 and 2 of the Series. The Rangers are the fifth team to be outscored by at least 13 runs through the first two games of a World Series. The others were the 1937 Giants, 1987 Cardinals, 1996 Yankees and 2007 Rockies. The 1996 Yankees were the only one of those teams that rebounded to win the Series.

Jonathan Sanchez will be looking for his first career postseason victory against Colby Lewis as the series shifts to Arlington. Lewis has been stellar thus far in the postseason, coming off an eight-inning gem against the New York Yankees that clinched the ALCS for the Rangers. Lewis will take the mound to attempt to win the franchise’s first World Series game ever, and hopefully reverse the fortunes of this series in their favor.

JONATHAN SANCHEZ
The curveball has been the out pitch for Sanchez late in the season. Since Sept. 16 – a span of seven starts – Sanchez has allowed two hits in 39 at-bats (.051) with his curve.

Despite throwing fewer curveballs per start during this stretch – 17.7 per start versus 21.7 per start before Sept. 16 – he is actually striking out more people with the pitch. He is averaging 3.7 strikeouts per start with the curveball during this span (only 2.7 strikeouts per start before).


Colby Lewis
Lewis
COLBY LEWIS
Lewis is throwing his curveball more often and with more effectiveness late in the season.

Before Sept. 15, Lewis was throwing 11.2 curveballs per start and opponents were hitting .304 against it. Since Sept. 15, Lewis is throwing 14.6 curveballs per start and opponents have only one hit in 18 at-bats (.056).

Lewis has thrown even more curveballs in the postseason – 18.7 curveballs per start in his three playoff outings.

Jonathan Sanchez
Sanchez

Sanchez has only faced two Rangers hitters in his career – Jeff Francoeur and Jorge Cantu – but only Francoeur is in the Game 3 lineup. Francoeur is just 2-for-14 with 5 K against Sanchez, but Cantu has two hits, including a double, in six at-bats.

Francoeur hit almost 70 points higher this season against lefties than he did against righties, and nearly 30 points higher against lefties than David Murphy – who would play if Francoeur didn’t -- did during the regular season.

Lewis has only faced three Giants hitters a total of 10 times in his career. But he’ll need to beware of Aubrey Huff, who is 2-for-4 lifetime against him with a home run.

ALCS Game 1 Preview: Yankees at Rangers

October, 15, 2010
10/15/10
4:09
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For those who think the pitching matchup in Game 1 favors the New York Yankees, there are a couple of statistical reasons to support that not being the case.

C.J. Wilson
Wilson
There are significant comforts to pitching in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for C.J. Wilson, who gets the start for the Texas Rangers against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS tonight. Wilson went 11-3 with a 3.70 ERA this season, successes determined partly by strong levels of run support (5.5 runs per game). But if Wilson can channel the version of himself that had an 0.67 ERA in 40 1/3 innings as a reliever there in 2009, the Yankees may have some significant issues with which to deal.

CC Sabathia has four career wins in Game 1 of a postseason series. He’s 4-2 career in postseason. His four wins are one shy of the all-time record shared by John Smoltz (5-0) and Hall of Fame ex-Yankee Red Ruffing (5-1). Sabathia is also 4-2 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but be forewarned, his ERA there is 4.71.

Matchups to Watch
The Rangers have four hitters who have previously had significant issues with Sabathia -- Josh Hamilton is 1-for-10 against him. Vladimir Guerrero is 3-for-17. Bengie Molina has huge problems with Sabathia -- 1-for-19 -- and thus will sit in Game 1 in favor of Matt Treanor. Jorge Cantu’s status (he’s 1-for-12 against Sabathia) is still to be determined.

It will be interesting to see how Wilson handles the Yankees lefties, particularly Curtis Granderson, who has looked good against pitchers of either hand lately. He was 2-for-7 with a walk against left-handed pitchers in the ALDS and any sort of contribution from him against Wilson could be significant. Granderson is 0-for-6 in his career against the Rangers southpaw.

Inside Edge Says
C.J. Wilson threw 13 curveballs against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS. Tampa Bay swung at seven of them, but missed five. In that start, Wilson threw a total of 25 pitches that Inside Edge deemed either curves, sliders or changeups. He got eight outs with those pitches, allowing no hits.

CC Sabathia
Sabathia
The slider was a major weapon for CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Twins. Thirty one of his 111 pitches were categorized as sliders. He got eight outs with the pitch, allowing one hit, duplicating what he did in his final regular season start. Of his last 130 sliders thrown, 81 have been for strikes, and he’s only yielded two hits.

Historic Trend
The winner of Game 1 of the ALCS has won the series in three of the last four years (2008 Red Sox being the exception). But the winner of Game 1 of the ALCS has only won the series four of the last 10 years (from 2002 to 2005, they lost each season).

Road teams are 18-22 all-time in Game 1 of an ALCS.

Stat of the Day
The Rangers are 0-6 all-time in postseason home games. If they get their first win, they’ll hold the record for most home postseason losses before the first home win. The current mark is six, set by the Tigers … that streak ended for them in 1909.

And both pitchers have had success with Gerry Davis behind the plate, the umpire who will be calling balls and strikes in Game 1. Sabathia is 4-0 in five startsr with a 2.88 ERA, while Wilson has pitched three times -- one start -- and gone 1-0 in 9 ⅔ innings without allowing an earned run.

1st Pitch: Interleague season in review

June, 28, 2010
6/28/10
2:22
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Quick Hits: The interleague season is now in the books as the AL goes 134-118 against the NL. It’s the seventh straight year that the AL bested the NL, after falling short in four of the first seven. Here’s a look at some other notables tidbits from the interleague portion of the schedule:
  • Red Sox pitchers hit .313 (5-16) in interleague play. They now have half as many hits as Dodgers pitchers in 104 fewer at-bats. Since interleague play began in 1997, the highest single-season batting average for an AL pitching staff is .368 by the 1997 Rangers.

  • Prior to the season, the Mariners were the only AL team with at least one hit from a pitcher in every season of interleague play. No longer, as the Mariners' staff went 0-for-18 with 12 K at the dish.
  • AL pitchers went homerless in 2010 for just the fourth time in the 14 years history of interleague play. As a group, AL pitchers are hitting just .105, which would be their third lowest total.
  • Jorge Cantu’s three home runs as a DH are tied for second most in NL history. In 2004, Jim Thome knocked four out while playing for the Phillies.
  • The White Sox finished with a 15-3 interleague record. Only three teams have posted a better record in the last 14 years. Chicago’s four shutouts are tied for the most in an interleague season.
  • Jason Berken pitched 12 2/3 interleague innings without allowing an earned run. That’s the third most innings for a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA in interleague play history.
  • Mike Sweeney is hitting just .205 against AL opponents, but he posted a .476 batting average and 1.399 OPS against the NL.
  • For the first time, no one hit more than seven home runs in interleague play. However, David Wright’s 24 interleague RBI is tied for the third most in a season.
  • Mark Reynolds struck out in 26 of 44 interleague at-bats, tying the single-season record.
Today’s Trivia: Justice John Paul Stevens sits on the Supreme Court bench for the final day on Monday. He will retire tomorrow after over 34 years on the court. Which legendary baseball game did he attend as a 12-year-old boy?

Today’s Leaderboard: NL designated hitters managed just a .217 batting average, the league’s worst mark in interleague history. Last season, they hit .277 as a group. The worst offenders in 2010 were the Brewers, who were just 1-23 at DH. The 2002 Brewers, who went hitless in 21 at-bats, are the only NL team to have a worse interleague season at DH.

Key Matchups: Hitting just .196 in June, Matt Kemp was held out of the starting lineup on Sunday. You can bet he’ll be back in there on Monday. Kemp is 16-for-35 (.457) in his career against Barry Zito. There is no pitcher he has faced more in his career, and those 16 hits are five more than he has against any other pitcher. Interestingly, only two of those 16 have gone for extra bases, and Kemp has yet to homer off of Zito.

Going into 2009, David Wright was a .480 hitter in 25 at-bats against Ricky Nolasco. But last season was a different story, as he managed just one hit in 11 at-bats while striking out seven times. The struggles continued this season, as he went hitless in his first four at-bats against Nolasco. However, he goes into Monday’s meeting with hits in each of his last four at-bats against the Marlins righty.

Trivia Answer: "He pointed toward the scoreboard in center field," Stevens told the Orlando Sentinel in 2007. "That much I do know." Indeed, Stevens, a lifelong Cubs fan who is now 90, was in the Wrigley Field stands on October 1, 1932 when Babe Ruth is said to have called his shot during Game 3 of the World Series.

The Closer: Baserunning fundamentals

June, 27, 2010
6/27/10
9:16
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You often hear talk about "five-tool players" in baseball. We had plenty of hitting for average on Sunday (Jose Guillen and Josh Hamilton both extended their hit streaks to 21 games). We had some power-- more than 70 extra-base hits and two dozen home runs (including the longest one by distance this season). Fielding and throwing didn't give us too many issues.

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.

Surprise league leaders

April, 19, 2010
4/19/10
6:43
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The season is only 2 weeks old, but some surprising names find themselves atop some statistical categories entering Monday.

Who has the most hits in baseball? Odds are prior to the start of the season, you wouldn't have said Scott Podsednik, Placido Polanco or Franklin Gutierrez would lead baseball in hits with 21 on this date. Podsednik leads baseball with a .457 BA.

Even more bizarre, Ivan Rodriguez leads the NL with a .444 BA.

I'm sure everyone thought Jorge Cantu would be the player with the most RBI with 16.

No Joe Nathan, no problem. The Twins Jon Rauch has the most saves with 6.

Felix Hernandez or CC Sabathia have to lead the AL in strikeouts, right? Wrong. That honor goes to the Orioles Brian Matusz with 23, one fewer than Tim Lincecum's ML-leading total 24.

Of course Lincecum leads baseball in K per 9 then... Wrong again. Fellow Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez has a higher K per 9 than any starter in baseball (12.41).

Your ML leader in XBH? None other than Blue Jays SS Alex Gonzalez with 11. In fact 11 of his 17 hits have gone for extra bases.

Stop the presses, a Nationals pitcher leads baseball in ERA. We told you Stephen Strasburg was the real deal. Wait. It's not Strasburg you are talking about? Nope. Livan Hernandez has yet to allow a run in 16 innings this season. In case you missed it, Hernandez' ERA is almost 6 over the last two years. Matt Garza leads the AL in ERA at 0.75.

Obviously the Blue Jays knew Ricky Romero would have the lowest opponent BA among AL starters at this point (.143). Why else would they have traded Roy Halladay? And if you guessed a Cardinals starter led the majors in Opp BA, you guessed right. Except it's not Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter we're talking about. We'd be talking about Jaime Garcia, who has held opponents to a .116 BA this season.

Tuesday's 1st Pitch: Closing Numbers

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
1:18
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: April 13 is the anniversary of both Pete Rose’s first hit (1963 off of Bob Friend) and his 4,000th hit (1984 off of Jerry Koosman). Which pitcher did Rose have his most hits against?

Quick Hits: More fun with tiny sample sizes. This time, with the help of Baseball Tonight researcher Mark Simon, let’s take a look at some strangeness pertaining to closers.

* Jon Rauch has had an odd go of it, so far. He's started 13 of 19 hitters with an 0-1 count. Those hitters are batting .385 against him. The six hitters that he's started with a 1-0 count are hitless.

* For the first time in his career, Jonathan Papelbon has more walks (2) than strikeouts (1) in a season.

* Via Fangraphs, hitters have only swung at 11 percent of pitches that Mike Gonzalez has thrown out of the strike zone. Last year, they swung at nearly 31 percent.

* Also via Fangraphs: In three appearances, hitters have made contact on 94.7 percent of their swings against Rafael Soriano. Last year, they made contact on 71.3 percent (16th-best among the 341 pitchers to throw at least 50 innings)

* Jose Valverde, who has always been more of a flyball pitcher, has induced eight grounders compared to only one fly.

* Matt Capps has allowed two doubles and five walks in four appearances, yet has only been charged with one run. Opposing hitters are 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Key Matchups: Brandon Inge is 0-for-14 in his career against Brian Bannister, which matches his history with Bruce Chen for Inge’s most at-bats without a hit against a pitcher. It is also the most Bannister has faced anyone without allowing a hit. Gary Sheffield is 0-for-12 against him.

Jorge Cantu is 6-for-20 all-time against Bronson Arroyo, which normally would not be significant enough to be mentioned in this space. However, Cantu is swinging for history on Tuesday. He has at least one hit and one RBI in all seven games this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he can tie the MLB record tonight for consecutive games to start a season with both a hit and an RBI. George Kelly did it in eight straight games for the 1921 Giants. The good news for Cantu? He has four hits in his last five at-bats against Arroyo, including a pair of home runs.

Today’s Leaderboard: Two of the hitters struggling most so far this season are leading the majors in pitches per plate appearance. David Ortiz leads the way with 5.0, followed by Milton Bradley. Are they struggling with patience or because of it? According to baseball-reference.com, Ortiz has been caught looking at 37 percent of the strikes thrown his way, well above his career average of 25 percent. He has also only swung at eight percent of first pitches. His career average is 28 percent.

Trivia Answer: Rose had 64 hits off of Phil Niekro, four more than he had against Don Sutton. A big part of that were 266 plate appearances against the knuckler, 72 more than against Sutton. Fun fact: Rose did not strike out once in his final 101 plate appearances against Niekro.

Rapid reaction: Halladay brings Astro-doom

April, 11, 2010
4/11/10
9:09
PM ET
How bad are things going for the Houston Astros, now 0-6, after getting swept by the Phillies? The Arizona Diamondbacks matched their production for the week in a single inning on Sunday. That was one of many highlights from a busy day.

Diamondbacks fourth inning: 13 runs, three home runs, four walks
Astros first six games: 13 runs, two home runs, five walks

* By beating the Astros, Roy Halladay won his 150th game. He is now 150-76, the fifth-best winning percentage of any pitcher with 150+ wins who debuted in 1900 or later. The four guys ahead of him: Whitey Ford, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, and Christy Mathewson.

Only two pitchers in Phillies history have started their careers with a pair of starts in which they allowed one run and struck out eight. Halladay matched the effort of Senator Jim Bunning, who did so in 1964.

Halladay's 45 complete games since 2003 are more than the total for 24 different teams.

* The Tigers won in crazy fashion, on a walk-off wild pitch for the first time since September 27, 2003.

This is significant because that was a game in which the Tigers avoided tying the 1962 Mets record for losses in a season. A loss would have been their 120th. The win kept them at 119, which is where they finished the season after winning the next day.

* Jorge Cantu has an RBI in each of the first six games he's appeared in this season. That's the best RBI start by a player since Vladimir Guerrero had one in six straight games in 2007. It's also one shy of the Marlins record, set by Cliff Floyd in 2001.

* With the grand slams by Josh Willingham and Luis Valbuena in the first inning Sunday, we had something happen for the first time in nearly four years.

The last time two players hit a grand slam in the first inning on the same day:

September 15, 2006: Pat Burrell (against Roger Clemens) and Ryan Shealy.

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