With Greg Maddux passing Cy Young's record for most consecutive 15-win seasons, we got to thinking: What are the odds we'll ever see any of Cy Young's other records broken -- in our lifetimes or anyone else's. Here's a quick look:
Most 20-win seasons (15): Warren Spahn (13) made a run at this one about 40 years ago. But it's not looking good. Your current leaders are Roger Clemens (6) and Tom Glavine (5). The youngest pitchers who even have two are Andy Pettitte and Pedro Martinez, both age 31. It's a little tough to envision either running off 13 more by age 44. So Mark Prior needs to get moving.
Most career wins (511): Spahn (363) got within 150. But our closest active twirler, Clemens (307) would have to win 103 games in each of the last two weeks of the season before retiring. Not looking good.
Most career losses (315): There hasn't been another 300-game loser since Young packed it in. And if there had, it's a good bet he wouldn't have been as amusing as Brian Kingman. Nolan Ryan gave it a whirl, peaking at 292. Our active leader is Maddux, with 163. And he couldn't lose another 152 if he got traded to the Tigers.
Most career hits by a pitcher (623): The good news is, Maddux has pulled within 400 (at 224). The bad news is, no pitcher has gotten 400 hits in more than 50 years. So barring Maddux making a comeback as a first baseman, old Cy is safe again.
Most innings pitched (7,356): Believe it or not, two relatively modern pitchers -- Phil Niekro and Nolan Ryan -- both rank in the top five behind Young in this category. Unfortunately, they both gave up chasing him with more than 1,900 innings to go. By our calculations, the active leader, Clemens, would have to average more than 1,500 innings a start the rest of the season to catch the big Cy before retirement.
In other words, we give up!
Useless generation information
It's getting tougher and tougher to compare the feats of this generation of hitters with the feats of their forebears. So we'll try to put a few recent feats in slightly different perspective.
Alex Rodriguez just joined Babe Ruth as the only players in history to hit 40 home runs in six straight seasons. Both great feats, whatever the generation -- but ... during the six years of A-Rod's streak, the other hitters out there racked up 63 seasons of 40 homers or more. When Ruth did it (seven straight years, 1926-32), all the other hitters in the big leagues combined for one more 40-homer season (eight) than Ruth had all by himself.
Rafael Palmeiro just joined the great Jimmie Foxx as the only two players in history to reach at least 35 homers and 100 RBI nine years in a row. Tremendous -- but ... when Foxx did it (1932-40), everybody else in the big leagues combined had only 19 seasons of 35-100. In the period in which Palmeiro has done it, the other guys have done it a combined 156 times -- and counting.
Barry Bonds has also tied a Foxx record this year -- by hitting 30 home runs for the 12th straight season. Sensational -- but ... in those 12 years Foxx was hitting 30 (1929-40), there were just 67 other 30-homer seasons by everybody else. During Bonds' streak, on the other hand, there have been (gulp) 315 other 30-homer seasons, by everyone from Sammy Sosa to Jay Bell.
Strange, but true useless info
Luis Sojo actually played a game for the Yankees this month (pinch-hitting Sept. 6) -- a month after playing for the Yankees in their Old Timers Game.
The Marlins pinch hit-for the Nos. 3-4-5 hitters in a row Tuesday in Philadelphia. Even if they were losing, 14-0, at the time, we've never seen that before.
In the same game, as loyal reader Rob Poulson pointed out, Phillies pitcher Vicente Padilla batted left-handed, then right-handed, then left-handed again in his first three at-bats -- all against the same pitcher (Carl Pavano).
And oh by the way, ESPN stats guru Jeff Bennett reports that the Eagles never won a 14-0 game in 32 seasons in the same stadium.
The Royals have used 15 starting pitchers this year. The 14th (Brian Anderson) and 15th (Jamey Wright) have thrown more complete-game shutouts this month (two) than the first 13 threw in the first 138 games of the season.
The Royals also did something last weekend that no team has done since Sept. 27, 1965 -- lose to a pitcher with 20 losses (Mike Maroth) and get shut out. Last team to get blanked in a game started by a 20-game loser: the '65 Phillies, who lost a 1-0 game to Larry Jackson (13-20 at the time) and the Cubs.
And in a 12-inning Sept. 2 game in which 11 pitchers threw a combined 380 pitches for the Orioles and A's, the winning pitcher (Ricardo Rincon) was a guy who threw exactly one pitch.
From the Elias vaults
The Giants' trade of Russ Ortiz gets more interesting all the time. You may be asking yourself, as Ortiz tries for his 20th win again this week: When was the last time a World Series team traded away a pitcher who won 20 games the next year? Well, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Series team to do that was (ready?) the 1923 Yankees. They dealt Carl Mays (5-2 that year, mostly in relief) to Cincinnati, where he went 20-9 in 1924. But unlike these Giants, who are heading for the playoffs, the Yankees didn't finish first in 1924. Neither, by the way, did the Reds.
Not even Secretariat headed for the tape as ferociously as the A's. They've now had winning streaks of 10 games or more after Aug. 1 in three straight seasons. Not to suggest it has been a while since any team did that, but the last time it happened, World War I hadn't even started yet.
Last team to do it, according to Elias: Ty Cobb's 1907-08-09 Tigers, who won 10 in a row in September 1907, 10 in a row again the next September and 14 in a row in August 1909. Those Oakland streaks are 11, 20 and 10. (Hmmm. Can you argue the 20-gamer was actually two 10-game streaks?) And the year before that, they went 18-4 in their final 22 games -- to make the playoffs by a half-game.
That Dodgers offense is one of a kind. They've scored one run or none 37 times already. Elias reports that no team has scored one run or none that many times and finished with a winning record since the 1992 Cardinals (38 times, 83-79).
After watching both first basemen (Nick Johnson and Carlos Pena) commit three errors in the same Yankees-Tigers game last week, a bunch of loyal readers wanted to know the last time two players at the same position had three errors apiece in the same game. You might have thought that would have happened in the middle of the infield. But Elias reports it was the first time since two third basemen -- Scott Cooper (Cardinals) and Garey Ingram (Dodgers) -- did it on May 12, 1995.
In one recent turn through the rotation, the Yankees had Roger Clemens and David Wells give up nine and 10 runs, respectively. Which isn't something you see happen to a whole lot of Yankees rotations. Last time it did, according to Elias: Aug. 27-28, 1988 in California. Charles Hudson gave up nine, and the next day, so did Tommy John.
Loyal reader Eric Orns got worked up about an Aug. 23 game in which the Angels went into the seventh inning with no runs -- and wound up scoring 14. No team had pulled that off in seven years -- since the Orioles (a day after scoring 18 runs) got shut out by John Wasdin in Oakland for the first six innings on Aug. 16, 1996, and then scored 14 against Wasdin, Paul Fletcher, Buddy Groom, Don Wengert and Carlos Reyes. Which turned a 2-0 deficit into a 14-3 win. The A's couldn't bring in Barry Zito -- because he'd just graduated from high school.
As loyal reader John Hollinger observes, the Yankees and Giants have both been no-hit this year, and both almost certainly will finish first. The last time two teams finished first in the same year in which they were no-hit: 1997, when the Giants got no-no'd by Kevin Brown and the Astros were no-hit by a Francisco Cordova-Ricardo Rincon tag team in Pittsburgh.
Even more useless information
In their Sept. 6 game against Florida, the Expos did something no team had done in at least the last 32 seasons. They got pinch hits from two different pitchers (T.J. Tucker and Joey Eischen) in the same game.
Before this year, no game in the 32-season annals of Retrosheet had featured two pinch hits by pitchers in the same game, according to Retrosheet founder Dave Smith. Then, in a June 3 interleague game, Detroit's Steve Avery and San Diego's Adam Eaton got pinch hits for each team in the same inning. And amazingly, just three momths later, another game featured pinch hits by two pitchers on the same team.
Even more amazingly, it wasn't even an extra-inning game. Plus, it's almost impossible for that to happen in September, after rosters expand -- except the Expos' roster wasn't permitted (by MLB) to expand.
We don't mean to put a damper on another remarkable season by Barry Bonds. But as loyal reader Kevin McElhaney (of St. Louis) observes, Bonds is almost certainly going to set a record for fewest RBI by a man who hit this many homers.
Through Thursday, he had 43 homers and 86 RBI -- meaning he'd driven in himself as many times as his teammates. Obviously, that's a reflection on how little he's pitched to with runners on base. But here are the fewest RBI in a season by a hitter with 43 homers or more, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia:
On the other hand, Bonds is walking his way into history yet again. He isn't a threat to walk 200 times this year, but loyal reader Lee Sinins, of baseball-encyclopedia.com, reports that Bonds will have his fourth straight year of drawing at least 100 more walks than the average hitter in his league.
Only four other players have ever even had one season like that. And the only previous player to do it in any back-to-back seasons was Ted Williams, in 1946-47. Here is everyone who has ever done it:
Barry Bonds, 4
Ted Williams, 3
Babe Ruth, 2
Mark McGwire, 1
Mickey Mantle, 1
What do the Braves know about their former employees that everyone else doesn't know?
Tom Glavine and Kevin Millwood vs. Atlanta:
0-7, 8.76 ERA, 13.5 hits per 9 IP, 1 HR every 3.2 IP.
Glavine and Millwood vs. everybody else:
23-17, 3.64 ERA, 8.6 hits per 9 IP, 1 HR every 13.8 IP
Speaking of the Braves, manager Bobby Cox is up to nine ejections this year. According to SABR ejections expert extraordinaire Doug Pappas, that's one short of Cox's career high (10, in 1999) -- and four shy of what is believed to be the all-time record for a manager. Here are the most known ejections of a manager in a season:
13: John McGraw, 1905 Giants
12: Paul Richards, 1956 Orioles*
11: Frank Frisch, 1940 Pirates*
11: Paul Richards, 1954 White Sox
(* -- at least one ejection hasn't been verified)
The Tigers are going to achieve yet one more impossible feat: They'll almost certainly finish the season with no reliever who had more than five saves.
Since the dawn of the modern save rule in 1973, only two teams have ever been led in saves (in a non-strike season) with a total that small, according to Retrosheet's Dave Smith. They were the 1974 Angels -- who had 12 saves all season, led by Orlando Pena with three -- and the 1974 Mets -- who had 14 saves all season, led by Harry Parker with four.
But the save rule was actually changed for just that season, resulting in a massive decline in saves. So there actually has never been a bullpen like this under the current save rule. Of course, it's not as if there have been many games to save.
The Tigers also have done something only one previous team in American League history had ever done -- lose 106 games one year and more the next. Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler reports that the only other AL team to pull that off was the 1915-16 Philadelphia A's, who went from 109 losses to 117.
There was a time when complete-game extra-inning shutouts were so common, we hardly even noticed them. As recently as 1976, there were 11 of them. But Roy Halladay's 10-inning shutout of Detroit last week was the first since Jack Morris did it in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series -- and only the 10th in the last two decades. Here are the others, courtesy of Retrosheet's Dave Smith.
Dan Schatzeder, Expos vs. Cubs, Aug. 9, 1984, 10 IP
Dennis Eckersley, Cubs vs. Phillies, April 16, 1985, 10 IP
John Tudor, Cardinals vs. Mets, 10 IP
Jack Morris, Tigers vs. Yankees, Sept. 27, 1986, 10 IP
Teddy Higuera, Brewers vs. Indians, Aug. 26, 1987, 10 IP
Mike LaCoss, Giants vs. Dodgers, Aug. 16, 1987, 10 IP
Bruce Hurst, Red Sox vs. Tigers, Aug. 7, 1988, 10 IP
Greg Maddux, Cubs vs. Padres, May 11, 1988, 10 IP
Dave Stewart, A's vs. Mariners, Aug. 10, 1990, 11 IP
It isn't often you see a team one game out of first place start a pitcher (Carlos Pulido) who hadn't pitched in the big leagues in eight years. But the Twins did it in a game last week against the White Sox. According to Elias, the last pitcher to go that long between appearances in the big leagues was Satchell Paige (1953-65) -- and he only came back as a publicity stunt.
Jackson was the second pitcher ever to make his big-league debut against the Big Unit. The other was Steve Dreyer of Texas, on Aug. 8, 1993. And both won.
Jackson was the fifth pitcher in history to make his big-league debut on his birthday, according to Elias -- but the first to win. The others: Larry Dierker (1964 Astros), Jerry Arrigo (1961 Twins), Tom Hughes (1959 Cardinals) and Fred Woodock (1892 Pirates).
Because Johnson was one day away from turning 40, this was not the 12th game in history to feature a 40-year-old starting pitcher versus a 20-year-old. But if it had, it would have been only the fifth time in history in which a team started a 20-year-old against a 40-year-old and won. The others (all involving Dwight Gooden), courtesy of Retrosheet's amazing Tom Ruane:
April 19, 1985: WP Gooden (20 years, 154 days) vs. ND Steve Carlton (40, 118)
April 30, 1985: WP Gooden (20, 165) over LP Joe Niekro (40, 174)
May 10, 1985: WP Gooden (20, 175) over LP Carlton (40, 139)
May 15, 1985: WP Gooden (20, 180) over LP Joe Niekro (40, 189)
We're always debating whether it's better to go into the playoffs after clinching early or better to establish momentum by going down to the wire. So the Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Jeff Fletcher decided to investigate.
Since the current playoff format began in 1995, 24 teams won their playoff spot by eight games or more -- and only eight of them lost in the first round. Another 22 teams won their playoff spot by no more than three games -- and 14 of them lost in the first round. Of course, better teams tend to clinch earlier. So this doesn't resolve all those debates. But it's sure interesting.
Finally, loyal reader Scott Graham, of the Phillies' broadcast crew, reports that the NL hitters with the two lowest batting averages since the All-Star break are Alex Gonzalez and ... Alex Gonzalez. The Alex Gonzalez in Florida is hitting .194. The Alex Gonzalez in Chicago is hitting .178.
The Sultan's Corner
Toronto's Greg Myers just became the 10th catcher in history to have an inside-the-park homer and an outside-the-park homer in the same game. The others, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent:
Gary Carter, Expos, May 31, 1980
Gary Carter, Expos, April 29, 1979
Johnny Bench, Reds, May 30, 1972
Buck Crouse, White Sox, April 18, 1925
Patsy Gharrity, Senators, June 23, 1919
Wally Schang, Athletics, Aug. 28, 1914
Branch Rickey, Browns, Aug. 6, 1906
Doggie Miller, Pirates, April 21, 1886
John Kerins, Louisville Colonels, July 5, 1885
Buck Ewing, New York Gothams, July 4, 1883
The Yankees' Nick Johnson is about to do something no hitter has ever done: He started his season with five straight homers on the road. Since then, all of his homers (eight) have come at home. The Sultan checked every player in history with 10 homers, and none ever started his season with a streak of five or more home runs on either on the road or at home, then finished it by hitting all the rest of his homers (five or more) the opposite. Here are the closest:
The Marlins' Derrek Lee gave himself a birthday present this month, by hitting his 28th home run on his 28th birthday. According to the Sultan, he's only the fourth player in history to have his birthday homer match his birthday age. The others:
Harmon Killebrew, 1964: No. 28 on birthday No. 28
Boog Powell, 1970: No. 29 on birthday No. 29
Zeke Bonura, 1934: No. 26 on birthday No. 26
Finally, you know it's a bizarre September when Juan Pierre, Cristian Guzman and Cesar Izturis all get 500 at-bats deep into the season -- and then all hit a homer. For Pierre, this is even the second straight season he's done that. So the Sultan cooked up a list of every player in the last 50 years who hit his only homer in a 500-AB season in September. (We should mention that Guzman technically wouldn't make this list, since he now has exploded for two homers this month.)
Matty Alou Sept. 1, 1970: 1 in 677 AB
Brett Butler, Sept. 3, 1993: 1 in 607 AB
Bert Campaneris Sept. 10, 1976: 1 in 536 AB
Mike Champion Sept. 9, 1977: 1 in 507 AB
Scott Fletcher Sept. 12, 1989: 1 in 546 AB
Tim Foli Sept. 19, 1975: 1 in 572 AB
Tim Foli Sept. 19, 1979: 1 in 532 AB
Dick Groat Sept. 20, 1964: 1 in 636 AB
Ozzie Guillen Sept. 8, 1989: 1 in 597 AB
Billy Hunter Sept. 26, 1953: 1 in 567 AB
Don Kessinger Sept. 4, 1968: 1 in 655 AB
Bill North Sept. 27, 1975: 1 in 524 AB
Ron Oester Sept. 6, 1985: 1 in 526 AB
Jose Oquendo Sept. 25, 1989: 1 in 556 AB
Ozzie Smith Sept. 4, 1978: 1 in 590 AB
Eric Yelding Sept. 13, 1990: 1 in 511 AB
Jose Offerman Sept. 8, 1993: 1 in 590 AB
Pat Listach Sept. 17, 1992: 1 in 579 AB
Rey Ordonez Sept. 19, 1996: 1 in 502 AB
Rey Ordonez Sept. 15, 1998: 1 in 505 AB
Rey Ordonez Sept. 28, 1999: 1 in 520 AB
Juan Pierre Sept. 29, 2002: 1 in 592 AB
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.