Stats & Info: Kyle Seager

Kernels: Leadoff hitters in leading role

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
Our look at the week's interesting and unusual baseball stats takes us to the front of the line.

Leadoff hitters are selected carefully. Teams generally want someone who can get on base, has a little bit of speed, and can "set the table" for the power hitters who follow. This week, however, it was the leadoff batters putting up some big games of their own.

The speedy Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers had two triples on Friday, and stole a base after singling in the sixth inning. The last Dodgers leadoff hitter with two triples and a steal was Steve Sax in 1984. Add Gordon's three RBIs and he's only the second Dodger ever with those numbers-- from any spot in the order. Willie Davis, batting third, did it twice (1962 and 1970).

The Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Harrison did his part on Wednesday, knocking a triple and two doubles. His teammates, however, never drove him in; two hits came with two outs and he was stranded at third once. He's the first Pirate in four decades to have a triple and two doubles without scoring at least one run. Al Oliver, batting third, pulled it off against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 28, 1973. Their last leadoff hitter with that line was Ira Flagstead in 1930.

Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter posted the team's first five-hit game in five seasons (Ryan Ludwick, 2009) on Wednesday. Carpenter added a walk to reach base in all six plate appearances, joining Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies as the only players this season to have a perfect day at the plate over six or more plate appearances. (Blackmon, of course, has what is still the season's only six-hit game.)

The Cardinals have had just one other leadoff hitter do it in the past 60 years. Fernando Viña had five hits and a walk in a 14-13 slugfest at Coors Field on April 16, 2000. Before that it was Tommy Glaviano in 1950.

Danny Santana of the Minnesota Twins added to the leadoff parade on Saturday when he went 4-for-5 with five RBI. Santana came up with five runners in scoring position and drove them all in, but he was stranded on all four trips and never crossed the plate himself. Only four leadoff batters have ever had four hits and 5 RBI without scoring at least once themselves: then-Pirate Pokey Reese in 2002, longtime Baltimore Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry in 1980, and Raymond "Rip" Radcliff of the Chicago White Sox in 1936.

Diamondbacks leadoff hitter Didi Gregorius was 3-for-6 with a homer on Wednesday, but it was the players after him that made the game notable. No. 2 hitter Gerardo Parra had three hits. So did No. 3 Paul Goldschmidt. Cleanup batter Martin Prado... three hits. And Miguel Montero, batting fifth? You guessed it. Three hits and six RBIs as Arizona hung 16 on the Rockies. It was the first time in team history that any five batters had three-hit games, and it had been more than a decade since any team had its first five batters get three each. On May 13, 2004, the Pirates had their first six batters do it in a 21-hit outburst that also occurred at Coors Field.

Follow-up: First homer madness
Last week we highlighted three players who each hit their first career home runs, notably Ben Revere of the Philadelphia Phillies. We concluded by mentioning that Kolten Wong now had the most career plate appearances of any active non-pitcher who hadn't homered yet. Guess what?

In plate appearance number 200 on Tuesday, Wong not only hit his first home run, but his first grand slam. The last Cardinals position player whose first homer was a slam was Willie McGee in 1982. That put Leury Garcia of the White Sox "on the clock" with 162 career plate appearances heading into Wednesday. Garcia got a rare chance to start that night, and of course he homered, meaning the top five players on the list all got themselves off the list in a 15-day span.

So, new list. Jumping from sixth to first is Luis Jimenez (139), who has played nine games with the Los Angeles Angels this season but is currently in triple-A. The top three on active rosters are James Jones (122), Irving Falu (101), and Ender Inciarte (76).

Hernandez, Seager thrive in Bronx

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
The Seattle Mariners have a couple of players who really like Yankee Stadium and we’re not talking about ex-Yankee Robinson Cano. Atop that list is Felix Hernandez, who beat the Yankeess again, allowing two runs in seven innings.

That actually raised Hernandez’s ERA at the new Yankee Stadium to 1.37, still easily the best by anyone who has made at least three starts there.

Hernandez has now allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts against the Yankees. Over the last six seasons, Hernandez has had a streak of five straight such starts against them and another streak of four straight such starts against them.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that in the Divisional Era (since 1969), the only other pitchers to have two such streaks of at least four starts are Frank Tanana, Nolan Ryan, Rudy May and Mark Gubicza.

Hernandez has now won five straight decisions overal,l and the last four of those starts have been particularly good. He’s gone at least seven innings in each and allowed two runs or fewer, with 31 strikeouts and four walks. He’s gotten 35 outs in those starts with his signature changeup, a pitch that has induced misses on 44 percent of swings against it this season.

On Monday, he threw 33 changeups. The Yankees swung at 20 and missed on 10 of them. They had one hit and nine outs against the pitch, including six strikeouts.

Seager stars with the bat
Kyle Seager became the first player in Mariners history with a home run and two triples in a game. He’s the first player to do that, with a double as well, for any team since Hal Breeden of the 1973 Expos did so against the Phillies.

Perhaps a day like this shouldn’t have been unexpected for him. Inside Edge tracks a stat for major-league teams and media outlets known as “hard-hit average.” The company rates every batted ball as either hard, medium or soft. Hard-hit average is the rate at which a player’s at-bats end with him being credited with a hard-hit ball.

Seager entered the day ranked fifth in the majors in hard-hit average this season, with a hard-hit ball in 24 percent of his at-bats.

The four players ranked ahead of him are four of the game’s elite hitters- David Ortiz, Troy Tulowitzki, Victor Martinez and Nelson Cruz. Among those Seager rated ahead of entering the day were Miguel Cabrera and Yasiel Puig.

What’s held Seager down is how he’s fared not when he hits the ball hard, but when he hits the ball softly. He entered the day 5 for 67 when hitting a soft-hit ball.

That may be due to come up at least a little bit. Seager had gotten hits on 13 percent of his soft-hit balls from 2011 to 2013.

Kernels: Everything's just grand

June, 9, 2013
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesYasiel Puig became a very popular man this week. His grand slam was one reason why.
Our weekly edition of notable and interesting facts has a one-topic subject this week.

Theme of the Week: Grand-Slam Barrage
It was a grand (slam) week for notable tidbits on grand slams and we're not just talking about Matt Holliday's on Sunday Night Baseball.

• John Mayberry cranked a walk-off slam to give the Phillies a win over the Marlins Tuesday, the first walk-off slam for the Phillies since Kim Batiste hit one against the Mets on August 13, 1993.

Mayberry-- who did not start the game-- also homered in the bottom of the 10th to re-tie the game after Miami took the lead in the top half. No player in the majors had hit two extra-inning homers in the same game since Baltimore's Mike Young did so against the Angels on May 28, 1987. And Elias confirms he was just the sixth player ever to do that.

Mayberry also didn't start the game. Since RBI became official in 1920, no player had ever come off the bench to record 5+ RBI, with all of them coming in extra innings.

• A grand slam was just one of the many oddities in Wednesday's White Sox-Mariners game. The teams played not just nine or ten, but thirteen scoreless innings. The White Sox piled up five hits and two walks in the innings and scored five runs, their most in any extra inning since May 17, 1996.

The Mariners answered with four straight singles to make it 5-1 and load the bases for Kyle Seager, whose grand slam tied the game.

Seager's slam was the latest by inning in Mariners history, and the latest in a game since David Eckstein hit a walk-off in the 14th inningfor the Angels on April 28, 2002. According to Elias, Seager's was the first game-tying grand slam in major-league history.

With a cap-tip to Retrosheet, the five runs were the most ever traded by two teams in an extra inning (i.e., so the game continued). And it was also the first time a game had gone scoreless through at least nine innings and then both teams scored five or more.

Addison Reed won, despite allowing five runs in extra innings. Only one other pitcher in the Live-Ball era entered a game in extras, allowed five or more runs, and still won. And that happened just two seasons ago: Micah Owings for the 2011 Diamondbacks.

• Thursday's grand slam belonged to newly-called-up Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig. It came in his fourth game in the majors, making him the first Dodger in the Live Ball Era to hit a slam within his first four career games..

But it wasn't even Puig's first homer of his career. It was his third. In his second career game two days earlier, Puig went deep twice and drove in five runs as Los Angeles beat San Diego 9-7. That performance made him the first player with a multi-homer game, and five or more RBI, so early in his career, in over 60 years.

Dino Restelli of the Pirates had a pair of two-run shots and an RBI single-- all off Warren Spahn, no less-- as Pittsburgh came from behind to beat the Boston Braves 8-7 on June 15, 1949.

Puig went deep again on Friday (a solo shot this time), giving him four home runs in his first five major-league games. According to Elias, only one other player since 1900 has been that prolific: Mike Jacobs, who did it in his first four games (one as a pinch hitter) when he debuted with the Mets in August 2005.

• Josh Donaldson of the Athletics extended our grand-slam parade on Friday by hitting Oakland's first one of the year and accounting for all four runs in their 4-3 victory over the White Sox.

He's the first player this season to hit a grand slam in a game in which his team only scored four runs total. And no Oakland player had done it in a win since July 15, 1990, when Felix Jose hit a first-inning slam off the Brewers' Chris Bosio. Despite not having another hit the rest of the game, those runs held up for a 4-1 victory.

Holliday's grand slam Sunday night was only the third in extra innings by a Cardinals player in the last 30 seasons. The others: by Tommy Herr and Albert Pujols, both came against the Mets.

White Sox, M's make extra-inning history

June, 5, 2013
When you go to a ballgame, you never know what’s going to happen. What started out as a pitchers’ duel in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon turned into one of the most bizarre games of the season.

The Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox were both scoreless through the first 13 innings, then the White Sox erupted for five runs in the top of the 14th inning and the Mariners somehow matched them with five runs in the bottom of the inning.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first game in major-league history in which each team scored five-or-more runs in a game that was scoreless through nine innings.

Kyle Seager tied the game for the Mariners in the 14th with a dramatic two-out grand slam. Elias also tells us that Seager is the first player in major-league history with a game-tying slam in extra innings.

How unlikely was Seager’s slam? He had zero homers in 17 career bases-loaded at-bats and zero homers in 23 career extra-inning at-bats entering this game.

The pitch was an 85 MPH slider at the knees that Seager drove into the right-center field seats. Prior to that at-bat, Seager was 1-for-19 on sliders in the lower third of the zone or below this season.

Alejandro De Aza was the hero for the White Sox in the 16th inning when he hit a line drive up the middle that scored Gordon Beckham from second base. It was his first career go-ahead hit in extra innings.

De Aza’s game-winning hit was less surprising than Seager’s game-tying slam. It came on a 1-2 changeup from Hector Noesi, continuing a recent trend of two-strike success for the lefty. Since May 30, De Aza is 9-for-23 (.391) in two-strike counts; prior to that date, he was hitting .173 with two strikes.

In the end, the teams combined for 12 extra-inning runs, tying the AL record for most runs scored by both teams in extras. It had been done four times previously, according to Elias, and most recently in a 16-4 game between the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers on July 3, 1983 that went 15 innings.

Although the Mariners have played several games that were longer than 16 innings, there had never been a home game in Mariners history that lasted as long as this five-hour and 42-minute marathon in terms of elapsed time.

Despite the loss, at least the fans in Seattle can say they got their money’s worth for this game.