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Monday, May 16, 2011
History isn't encouraging for Jorge Posada


Strike One -- The .165 Club

We begin our look back at a fascinating baseball weekend by asking a question Jorge Posada is no doubt asking himself right now:

Is there life after .165?

Well, Posada will be happy to know he isn't the first player in history who was hitting .165 or worse on May 15.

He'll be even happier to know that some of the other guys who did that over the past 25 years actually bounced back to salvage their seasons.

What he won't be so happy to know is that not one of those players who rebounded had turned 30 yet, let alone 39.

Want the details? Here goes.

Through baseballmusings.com's fabulous day-by-day database, we found 14 other players in the past quarter-century who were hitting .165 or worse (in some cases, much worse) through May 15, after at least 100 at-bats. Here they are, ranked by how their seasons turned out:

Pretty funky list, isn't it? Now here's what the top six names on that list have in common: They all were in their 20s.

There's also a fairly common theme with the bottom eight names. Six of those eight (all but Ryan and Elster) were in their 30s. See a pattern anywhere?

In Posada's case, though, he's now three months from turning 40. And if you're looking for parallels, good luck. We went back through the past half-century and couldn't find one player his age who got that many at-bats this early in a season and had an average that low.

In fact, we found just two hitters in the past 50 years who got off to a start this messy (with 100-plus at-bats) at age 35 or older.

One was Vaughn, whose 2002 season, at age 36, was an official disaster from start to finish.

The other was Davey Lopes, then 36, of the 1981 Dodgers. He was hitting exactly .165 on May 15 and made it back to only .206, with a .574 OPS, by the end of a strike-interrupted season. The only uplifting news for him was that at least his team ended up winning the World Series. But the champagne had barely been wet-vacced off the carpets before the Dodgers turned around and traded him to Oakland.

So if Posada is looking for encouragement from history, we can't offer him much. But if misery loves company, at least he's not alone.

Strike Two -- Target Practice

• Is Jose Bautista amazing or what? He just hit five home runs in one weekend at Target Field. They came in a mere 14 at-bats. The Twins (all of them) have hit six home runs there all season -- in 509 at-bats.

• Then again, Bautista has hit 16 home runs this season in all the parks he's played, in 114 at-bats. The Twins' whole team has hit 18 homers all season -- in 1,283 at-bats.

• Our buddy Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune unfurled this amazing pearl today on Bautista: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have played a combined 129 games at Target Field -- and hit a total of five home runs. Bautista now has played seven games there -- and hit seven bombs. Yikes.

• And in case you missed this list in Rumblings a couple of weeks back, Bautista now has become just the seventh player in history to hit 60 home runs in a calendar year without hitting 60 in any full season. The others, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR Home Run historian David Vincent: Hank Greenberg twice (60 in 1937-38 and 1938-39), Ken Griffey Jr. twice (62 in 1993-94 and 66 in 1997-98), Albert Belle (67 in 1995-96), Alex Rodriguez (63 in 2001-02), Ryan Howard (63 in 2005-06) and David Ortiz (62 in 2005-06).

Strike Three -- Useless Weekend Information Dept.

• When Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Friday in the next start after his no-hitter, the good news was that it meant he got within 10 outs of matching Johnny Vander Meer. The bad news, according to streak guru Trent McCotter, was that he would have needed another 10 consecutive hitless INNINGS to break Cy Young's 1904 record of 25 1/3 straight hitless innings over three starts.

• On the other hand, Verlander did face 50 consecutive hitters over three starts without allowing a hit to any of them. Meanwhile, of the first 50 hitters that this year's anti-Justin Verlander, Houston's Nelson Figueroa, faced this season, he gave up a hit to 19 of them.

• It took the Red Sox 40 games, but they finally made it to .500 (20-20) on Sunday night. And if they go on to reach the postseason after their 2-10 start, they'll be in historic territory. Here's what they're up against: Of the previous 72 teams that started 2-10 or worse, 20 of them lost 100 games. But only nine finished with a winning record, and just three won 90 games or more. The only three that lived to play a postseason game: Bobby Thomson's 1951 Giants, Wilver D. Stargell's 1974 Pirates and Miguel Tejada's 2001 A's.

• Then there are the Rays. Not so long ago, you might recall, they were (like Boston) 0-6. Now they've spent the past eight days in first place. And that's already the most days an American League team has spent in first place in ANY season after an 0-6 start, according to the Rays' trusty public-relations staff.

Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner

• Madison Bumgarner has made eight starts this season -- and won none of them. Last pitcher to win a game in the World Series, then kick off the next season with at least eight straight winless starts for the same team: Anthony Reyes, of the 2006-07 Cardinals.

• Speaking of winless streaks by pitchers named Reyes, our man Jo-Jo Reyes is now up to 26 consecutive starts since his last win. So he's just two starts from matching the longest winless stretch in the past 89 years, by Oakland's Matt Keough in 1978-79. But we're all about positivity here. So Reyes should know that at least he's given his team a chance to win more games in his streak than the last pitcher to lose this many starts in a row -- Mets/Cubs legend Anthony Young. The Blue Jays and Braves have gone 7-19 in Reyes' winless starts. The Mets and Cubs went a brutal 4-23 during Young's streak (from 1992-94), including a scary 2-22 over his final 24 starts.

• Roy Halladay joined the kind of exclusive club no pitcher wants to join last week. He just became the third National League starter in this millennium to rip off back-to-back complete-game losses. The others to do it: Johan Santana in 2010 and Roy Oswalt in 2006. The only NL pitcher to lose three complete games in a row in any of the past 25 seasons: Randy Johnson in 1999.

• Finally, the Dodgers threw a one-hitter and lost Saturday -- for the first time since July 17, 1914. But it's kind of tough for them to complain, since in 2008 they won a game against the Angels in which they got NO hits.