Stats & Info: Scott Rolen

Giants pull out win despite just three hits

October, 9, 2012

Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Giants' offense was quiet once again, but they did enough to survive to see Game 4.
The San Francisco Giants offense continued its struggles in the NLDS, but got some help to pull out a season-saving win despite just three hits.

The Giants' first run came without a hit in the third inning and their final run came courtesy of a Scott Rolen error in the 10th.

Giants Pull Out Rare Win
They are the first road team to win a postseason game with fewer than four hits since the 2001 New York Yankees against the Oakland Athletics in Game 3 of the ALDS in the famous Derek Jeter relay game.

The Giants also became just the fifth team in MLB postseason history to win a game in which they were struck out 16 times and the seventh team in postseason history to win an extra-inning game in which the winning run scored because the batter reached on an error.

Hits Come Few and Far Between
The Reds pitching staff held the Giants to one hit through the first nine innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau the Giants are the third team in MLB postseason history to win a game with only one hit through nine innings after getting two hits in the 10th. The 1974 Oakland Athletics and 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers both won in nine innings despite only having one hit.

After starter Ryan Vogelsong allowed three hits and a run in the first inning, the Giants pitching staff combined to allow just one hit over the final nine innings.

Homer Bailey Dominates
The against-the-odds win for the Giants wasted a stellar start by Homer Bailey, who rode the momentum from his no-hitter a couple of weeks ago by tying his career high with 10 strikeouts, while allowing only one hit (a Marco Scutaro single) in seven innings.

The only other pitchers to allow one hit or fewer in at least seven innings while striking out double-digits are Roger Clemens, Orlando Hernandez and Mike Mussina.

Bailey got ahead of Giants hitters, starting the first 13 and 19 of the 24 fitters he faced with a strike.

The 10 punch-outs set a Reds single-game postseason record -- besting the previous mark of nine shared by Hod Eller (1919 World Series against the Chicago White Sox) and Jose Rijo (1990 World Series against the Oakland Athletics).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bailey also tied the postseason record with six consecutive strikeouts. It was done four times previously.
The New York Mets appeared headed for just their third three-game road sweep in Atlanta since 1990 when they entered the bottom of the ninth inning leading 8-6.

However the Atlanta Braves stormed back with two runs in the ninth before scoring the game-winning run in the 10th inning in a rather unconventional way -- on a game-ending balk by D.J. Carrasco.

It was Carrasco's fourth career balk, but first coming since 2005 when he had three. For the Mets it marked just their second loss by a game-ending balk in franchise history. The other came back in 1989 against the Dodgers.

While Carrasco goes home the goat, the biggest blow of the game came in the bottom of the ninth inning when Brooks Conrad hit a pinch-hit two-run home run to tie the game. It was Conrad's fifth game-tying or go-ahead pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning or later since 2009. That leads all players in the majors during that span.

Conrad became the first Braves pinch-hitter since Greg Norton on September 14, 2008 to hit a game-tying or go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later against the Mets. He was the fourth Braves player to do so since 2000.

Chipper Jones also homered Thursday night, the 47th of his career against the Mets. Elias tells us the only active players with more than 47 career homers against any National League team are Albert Pujols (51 against the Chicago Cubs) and Lance Berkman (50 against the Cincinnati Reds).

Despite the loss, Jose Reyes continued his strong play picking up three hits while surpassing the 100-hit mark for the season. He did so in the Mets 69th game played setting the franchise record for fewest team games needed to reach 100 hits. He broke the record of 72 games previously held by Lance Johnson.

Reyes also picked up his 12th triple of the season in just 66 games played. That matched his total from the last two seasons combined (169 games).

Elsewhere around MLB:

Cliff Lee
• Cliff Lee threw a two-hit shutout Thursday as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Florida Marlins, the sixth shutout thrown by a pitcher in the past three days. Lee also got it done with the bat pounding out two hits. According to Elias he was the first Phillies pitcher to allow two or fewer hits in a shutout performance while stroking a pair of hits with the bat since Steve Carlton did it against the Cubs in October of 1980.

• The Pittsburgh Pirates improved their season record to 35-33 with a win against the Houston Astros. Elias passes along this gem. Since beginning of its streak of consecutive losing seasons in 1993, Pittsburgh has been two games over .500 this far into a season in only two other years: 1997 (latest: 67-65) and 1999 (latest: 40-38).
Today’s Trivia: With the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees set to square off on Monday Night Baseball. Who are the only two players with 40 or more home runs for both franchises?

Quick Hits -- A look back at some fun home runs numbers from an eventful opening weekend:
Howie Kendrick

• There have been 17 home runs hit by second basemen this season, most of any position. That includes three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Howie Kendrick. He has more home runs than all shortstops combined (2).

• Cincinnati Reds catchers Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez are a combined 9-12 with 3 HR and 7 RBI. By contrast, the Tampa Bay Rays are 12-91 with 1 HR and 3 RBI.

• The Texas Rangers have 3 HR with the count full. Last season, the Seattle Mariners had just 5 HR coming on full counts.

• Ike Davis’ home run on Sunday came on a 3-0 count. The New York Mets didn’t have a home run on a 3-0 count last season, and Carlos Delgado in 2009 was the last player to do it for New York.

• Scott Rolen’s home run on Saturday came on an 0-2 count. Last season, the Reds only had one 0-2 homer.

• The Boston Red Sox have allowed at least three home runs in three straight games. Last season, the Red Sox never allowed three home runs in back-to-back games, much less three in a row.

• The Rangers hit 11 home runs in three games against Boston. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other team in MLB history hit as many as 11 home runs in its first three games of a season. That was the 2006 Detroit Tigers with 15.

• Also from Elias: Boston tied the 1955 Milwaukee Braves' record for home runs allowed in a team's first three games of a season.

• Texas’ 11 HR are already more than either the Mariners or Houston Astros had last April (both had 9).
Clay Buchholz

• Clay Buchholz allowed four home runs Sunday after allowing nine all last season. He’s allowed 37 HR in his career, but 12 of those have come in three starts.

• The Angels have more extra-base hits (20) than runs (18). That’s in part due to eight of their nine home runs coming with the bases empty. In fact, they have more solo home runs (8) than hits with runners in scoring position (7-42).
• There have been 108 HR hit through 46 games. There were 98 hit through 47 games last year.

Trivia Answer: Chuck Knoblauch and Roy Smalley are the only players with 40+ home runs for both the Twins and Yankees. Dave Winfield (31 HR for the Twins) came close.

Gold Glove for Pujols, CarGo but not Utley

November, 10, 2010
The National League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were announced Wednesday; three players from the Cincinnati Reds, and two apiece from the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies were rewarded, along with centerfielders Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies and Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros.

Troy Tulowitzki

Bronson Arroyo won his first Gold Glove by tying for the lead among National League pitchers with six defensive runs saved. Troy Tulowitzki, another first-timer, was second among qualified NL shortstops with, according to Baseball Info Solutions, 16 defensive runs saved.

Scott Rolen made the second fewest errors and had the second best fielding percentage among NL third basemen en route to his eighth career award. And Yadier Molina won his third by leading NL catchers in assists (15 more than runner-up Brian McCann) and caught stealing percentage -- a whopping 48.5.

The biggest question in the National League comes in the outfield, where Victorino and Bourn are joined by Carlos Gonzalez. The first two won their third and second awards, respectively, in deserving fashion. Victorino tied for the NL lead with 11 outfield assists and tied for fifth among NL outfielders with 11 defensive runs saved. Bourn tied for second in that category with 16.

Carlos Gonzalez

Gonzalez did have five Web Gems and 17 Web Gem points, but he finished 23rd among qualified NL outfielders with -2 defensive runs saved. Another defensive metric from, Ultimate Zone Rating (per 150 defensive games played) had him 20th at -3.8 (behind teammate Dexter Fowler among others). In fact, we can’t find a stat that justifies his selection.

Baseball Info Solutions charts good plays and misplays by category. Gonzalez did not rank among the leaders in any significant good play defensive category by their measures. He did rate tied for first among outfielders in their category “Wasted Throw after Hit or Error” with five instances in which a Gonzalez throw led to another baserunner advancing on the play.

Reds rightfielder Jay Bruce made his case for a Gold Glove, leading all NL outfielders in defensive runs saved (17) and finishing second in UZR/150.

Brandon Phillips won the award at second base with the second fewest errors while leading all major league second basemen in Web Gems. But 27 NL second basemen had more defensive runs saved than Phillips did, including Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.
Chase Utley
Many believe Utley is long overdue for a Gold Glove, as he’s led NL second basemen in defensive runs saved in each of the past three seasons, including in 2008 when he nearly doubled the player who finished second. He was second in 2007, and third in 2006 and 2005 as well. And this season, Utley led NL second basemen in Plus/Minus, as well as Total Zone Runs as a 2B, Range Factor per 9 innings as a 2B and Range Factor per game as a 2B. The latter three came courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Notably, all four infield winners, including first baseman Albert Pujols, led the National League in Web Gems at their position. Tulowitzki was the overall Web Gem champion.

All rankings in defensive runs saved and UZR/150 are among qualified National League players at that position, and are taken from Fangraphs.

The secret to Rolen's revitalized power

June, 2, 2010
Scott Rolen is no stranger to circling the bases. He hit 253 homers in his first 11 seasons in the majors, a number that is surpassed by just seven third basemen in MLB history (using a criteria of 75 percent of games played at third base): Eddie Mathews, Mike Schmidt, Troy Glaus, Matt Williams, Ron Santo, Dean Palmer and Ken Boyer. But after averaging 25 longballs per year from 1996-2006, he hit just 30 combined in 355 games from 2007-09.

It’s been a different story in 2010, as the 34 year-old is raking once again. He’s already surpassed his homer total from last year and his slugging percentage of .592 would be the second-highest mark of his career. Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers to see if we can find the source of this power surge by the slugger in the Queen City.

First, Rolen is pulling the ball slightly more this year, with 51.5 percent of his balls in play going to the left side compared to 44 percent last year. But it appears to be the sharp increase in his ability to hit the ball with authority to the opposite field that has really fueled his power surge. In 2009, he slugged just .350 to the right - and that number has nearly doubled to .632 in 2010. Last year, he put 120 balls in play to the right but only 30 of them fell for hits and none went over the fence. This year, he’s put 38 balls in play to the right, and while only 10 have been hits, four of those 10 have left the ballpark!

Rolen is hitting the same amount of flyballs this year compared to last year (63 percent of balls in play), but the results have been dramatically different in 2010. The majority of his pop in 2009 was of the doubles variety. Of his 100 hits on flyballs, 43 were for extra bases, but 31 of those were two-baggers, while 11 were homers and one was a triple. This year, his flyballs are literally flying out of the park. He has launched 89 balls to the outfield, 36 of them have fallen for hits and 13 of those have cleared the fences, while 10 have gone for doubles.

Finally, Rolen is also really taking advantage of pitchers’ mistakes this year, after barely making a mark on those balls thrown in the heart of the strike zone last season. In 2009, he saw 94 pitches in the exact center of the zone: he put 43 of them in play but managed only 12 hits, including just a one solitary longball. This year he has seen 33 pitches down the middle: he has put 17 in play, with 10 falling for hits and five of those 10 have been home runs.

Rolen smacked two dingers last night as the Reds beat the Cardinals 9-8 and took over sole possession of first place in the NL Central. Chris Carpenter is on the hill for the Cardinals tonight in the rubber game, and has struggled with the longball this season. He’s allowed 10 homers in his first 11 starts – including at least one in each of his last four starts - after giving up just seven homers in 28 starts last year. Tune into ESPN at 8 Eastern tonight to see if Rolen and the Reds can extend their lead in the division over the Cardinals.

The Closer: keep on Rolen

June, 2, 2010
Scott Rolen didn't top 11 home runs in 2007, 2008 or 2009. So far in 2010, Rolen has turned back the clock to the days when he was a 25-home run threat. We break down how the 5-time All Star is getting it done in this edition of The Closer.

Hitters of the Night:

Scott Rolen, CIN: 3-5, 2 HR (13), 4 RBI

Scott Rolen had his third multi-homer game of the season Tuesday, helping the Reds to a 9-8 victory over the Cardinals. Rolen's first home run came off a curveball, his second homer off the pitch this season. In 2008 and 2009, Rolen had just one home run against a curveball.

Victor Martinez, BOS: 5-5, 4 2B

Victor Martinez becomes the 5th player in Red Sox history with 4 doubles in a game and the first since Rick Miller in 1981. Martinez is the first player in MLB with 4 doubles in a game since Alex Rios had 4 2B against the Red Sox in 2008. V-Mart is also the first player to go 5-5 with 4 doubles since Tampa Bay's Tomas Perez in 2006 against the Yankees.

Why Ricky Nolasco won:

- Had success with his fastball. Threw strikes 76.8 pct of the time and struck out five hitters with the pitch, both season-highs for him.
- Worked the inner third of the plate: As judged by Inside Edge, Nolasco entered Tuesday's start with just four strikeouts all season on inside pitches. Against Milwaukee, Nolasco registered five punchouts on inside pitches. Brewers hitters were just 1-9 against pitches on the inner third.
- Nolasco put hitters away, as the Brewers were just 1-11 after the count got to two strikes.

Why Javier Vazquez won:

- He made batters miss on 27.5 percent of the time they swung, which was his second highest amount as a starter this year.
- Even though he got 7 strikeouts he was very effective keeping the ball down in the zone, throwing his season high 64 pitches down. This also generated season highs with 9 ground-ball outs and 52.9 percent of balls hit into play resulting in ground-balls.
- He threw first pitch strikes 73 percent of the time compared to the MLB average of 58.

Why Mike Pelfrey won:

- Worked the middle and low parts of the strikezone effectively. Threw 69 pitches and had batters swing 17 times while only yielding 1 hit.
- Finished off batters. 92 percent of batters that went to 2 strike counts were converted into outs compared to the MLB average of 72.
- He threw a strike in one of his first two pitches 93 percent of the time compared to the MLB average of 85.

TMI Power Poll: Top 10 third basemen

May, 27, 2010
This week in the TMI Power Poll, the topic was the best third basemen in the game today. There was a bit of a youth movement at the hot corner as four members of the top 10 have fewer than four years of service in the big leagues. Meanwhile, a former three-time MVP is not in the top spot.

Evan Longoria, the face of a young Rays team that has the best record in baseball, took the top spot. He has developed into a complete player. According to Baseball Tonight Researcher Mark Simon, Longoria is 3rd in the MLB with .738 offensive winning percentage. On the defensive side, Longoria's 17.0 UZR tied for the lead among all 3B over last two seasons (with Ryan Zimmerman).

Others receiving votes: Brandon Inge, Chipper Jones, Jose Bautista, Placido Polanco, Chase Headley, Jorge Cantu, Casey Blake, Alberto Callaspo, Nick Punto

1st pitch: Early win-loss trends

April, 28, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Who is the winningest active National League pitcher age 26 or under?

Quick Hits: The numbers don’t always hold great meaning, but there are some fascinating win-loss trends that have held true thus far. Thanks to both and, here are some of those quirky records:

* The Braves are 8-2 when Jason Heyward gets a hit and 0-10 when he doesn’t.

* The Braves are 7-1 when they hit a home run and 1-11 when they don’t.

* Six of the Pirates' 12 losses have been by eight or more runs. Last season, it was only nine of their 99 losses.

* Last season, the Mariners rode a 35-20 record in one-run games, best in the majors. This season? Just 2-5. Only the Orioles have more losses.

* The Red Sox are 4-4 when allowing four or fewer runs. Last season, they were 70-17.

* Then again, Boston is 6-6 when allowing six or more runs, when they were just 11-37 last season.

* Scott Linebrink has a 1.13 ERA and 11 strikeouts in eight innings, but the White Sox are 0-6 when he makes an appearance and 8-6 when he doesn’t.

* The Reds are 9-7 when Scott Rolen appears in a game and 0-4 when he doesn’t.

* The Rockies are 2-6 when Chris Iannetta starts, compared to 9-4 with Miguel Olivo behind the plate. Iannetta was demoted to the minors on Tuesday.

* The Royals are 2-10 when Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister or Gil Meche start, and 6-2 otherwise.

* The Mets are now 8-1 with Ike Davis appearing in the game.

* The Mets are 0-7 when allowing a home run and 12-2 otherwise.

Today’s Leaderboard: The A’s and the Padres are two of the more surprising teams early in 2010. Even the Pirates, at 8-12, are probably exceeding expectations. A big reason for all three? Success in close games. The Pirates are 4-1 in one-run games, the best winning percentage in the majors. Last year, Pittsburgh was an MLB-worst 12-22. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have already played an amazing nine one-run games, including five straight going into Wednesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox haven’t played six straight one-run games since May 1964.

Key Matchups: Quite simply, Paul Maholm owns Prince Fielder. Fielder was hitless in his first 12 at-bats against the lefty, and is just 3-for-33 (.091) lifetime. That includes 10 strikeouts and just one walk. That .091 average is Fielder’s worst against any pitcher he has faced 20 times. No pitcher has fanned Fielder more than Maholm, who is not exactly known as a strikeout pitcher.

Very few pitchers make Chase Utley look bad. Very few pitchers are as good as Tim Lincecum. Utley is just 2-for-17 (.118) against Lincecum, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Utley’s two hits came in his first four at-bats against Lincecum, and they were in the future Cy Young winner’s first month in the majors. Since then, Utley is 0-for-13 with six strikeouts.

Trivia Answer: With 50 career wins, 26-year-old Cole Hamels has the most among NL pitcher 26 or under. Tim Lincecum, his opponent on Wednesday, is tied with teammate Matt Cain for third with 44 wins. Felix Hernandez, still only 24, has the most in the majors with 60 wins, closely followed by 26-year-old Scott Kazmir’s 59.

The Closer: case of the Mondays

April, 13, 2010
Some big-time performances Monday. Here are reasons why some pitchers won and lost as well as our Hitter of the Day:

Why Rays Starter Matt Garza won:

-Commanded his fastball: threw 69.2 percent of his fastballs for strikes, his fifth highest mark since last April. That number shot up to an incredible 84.8 against right-handed batters, a higher percentage than that of any of Garza's starts last season.

-Used slider as his out pitch: Garza threw his slider 14 times, nine of which came with two strikes. Four of his five strikeouts were on sliders with all of them swinging. Orioles hitters were 0-5 against the pitch.

-Dominated righties (again): Right-handed batters chased 43.5 percent of Garza's pitches out of the strike zone (24.8 percent in 2009). Through two games, righties are hitting just .185 against Garza (.271 in 2009).

Why Athletics Starter Justin Duchscherer won:

-Polished off Mariners hitters with two strikes. Twelve Seattle hitters went to two-strike counts against Duchscherer, and he retired ten (H, BB the exceptions). Duchscherer had similar success in his last start on April 7 against these same Mariners, holding Seattle hitters to 2-11 in two-strike plate appearances (3-23 with a BB on the season).

-Stayed in command of the count. Duchscherer went to 3-0 only once all game (to Jose Lopez), and the strike he threw on the next pitch gave him his only 3-1 count of the day as well. Lopez grounded out softly to second base on the fifth pitch.

-Runners on base stayed on base. Duchscherer retired nine out of ten hitters he faced with men on base, walking one. Seattle hitters went 0-5 with RISP (4 groundouts, 1 strikeout).

Why Cardinals Starter Adam Wainwright won:

-Never reached a 3-0 count. Went to a 2-0 count on just one of 29 hitters.

-The Astros were 1-17 against Wainwright's slider and curveball. All seven of his strikeouts came on those pitches.

Why Braves Starter Jair Jurrjens lost:

-Didn't finish off Padres hitters. Went to a two-strike count 11 times, with six reaching base (1 BB). In Jurrjens' last start against the Cubs, he went to a two-strike count 15 times, with only 4 reaching base (2 BB).

-His changeup didn't fool anyone. Jurrjens threw 16 changeups in the strike zone and Padres hitters only missed once. They slugged .875 against his changeup in the strike zone. In 2009, hitters slugged only .340 against Jurrjens' changeup in the strike zone, the lowest of his four pitches.

Hitter of the Night:

Scott Rolen, CIN: 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Rolen's 2010 batting average (.318) looks similar to the .305 clip he put up in 2009, but the rest of his numbers show a marked, albeit early, improvement in both approach and result. Rolen's power in particular has improved this year with three home runs by April 12; a total he didn't reach in 2009 until May 5. Rolen is slugging .727 this season (.455 last season). Rolen has struck out just 4.0 percent of the time this season (11.6 percent last season).