Unintentional comparison

Really Useless Information

  • Nothing new about Barry Bonds leading the National League in walks. But as ESPN Radio's Sean Tyman reports, there's just a little difference between Barry and the guy leading the other league in walks, Boston's Mark Bellhorn.

    At one point over the weekend, Bonds' slugging percentage was nearly 1.000 points higher than Bellhorn's (1.325-.362). His batting average was more than 300 points higher (.525-.213). And his OPS was more than 1.200 points higher (2.028-.793).

    One thing they do have in common: Both have a lot more walks than hits this year. (Bonds: 32 walks, 22 hits. Bellhorn: 19 walks, 10 hits.)

  • Roger Clemens has four wins already -- and three RBI. If he'd like some new horizon to shoot for, he should know this:

    Last pitcher with 15 wins and 15 RBI in the same season -- Don Robinson (15 wins, 16 RBI in 1982).

    Last pitcher with 20 wins and 20 RBI in the same season -- Ferguson Jenkins (20 wins, 24 RBI in 1971).

  • The Tigers went into Wednesday's game needing one more win to clinch a winning April. That would make them the first team to have a winning record after losing 110 games or more the previous year since the 1905 Senators, who went from 113 losses in 1904 to a 7-6 April in 1905 (but still finished 64-87).

    The only other 110-loss team to have a winning April was the 1899 St. Louis Perfectos, who lost 111 in 1898 but started 9-2 (and went on to go 84-67).

  • A bunch of loyal readers flooded us with questions on Kevin Brown -- especially his three wins over the Devil Rays in three different parks, all in a span of 15 days.

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brown was the first pitcher to beat the same team in three straight starts in three different parks since 1901, when the immortal Noodles Hahn did it for the Reds against the Cardinals. He beat them twice in St. Louis (at Robison Field and Sportsman's Park) and once in Cincinnati (League Park).

    Last time we checked, though, all those parks were on the same continent. Which was more than we could say for the Tokyo Dome, Tropicana Field and Yankee Stadium.

  • There was another deluge of questions about Brown and Mike Mussina winning their 200th games for the Yankees in back-to-back games. According to Elias, not only had teammates never done that in successive games before, no teammates had ever even done it in the same season before.

  • But loyal reader John Kreiser points out that the Yankees' final regular-season win last year happened to be David Wells' 200th win -- meaning that in a span of fiveregular-season wins (over two years), the Yankees had three different pitchers reel in their 200th win. That should be impossible. Shouldn't it?

  • Loyal reader Tom Mariam also reports another Brown oddity: none of Brown's first 197 wins came against the Devil Rays. Then Nos. 198, 199 and 200 all came against them.

  • The Cubs enjoyed their trip to Pittsburgh last week so much, that two games in a row, their starting pitcher (Carlos Zambrano, then Sergio Mitre) batted before he'd thrown a pitch. Loyal reader Mike Berkowitz wondered how often that happens.

    The answer, according to Elias: June 27-28, 2002, when Padres pitchers Kevin Jarvis and Brian Lawrence had that thrill (at San Francisco and Kansas City). The bad news was, the Padres lost both games.

    Last time a team batted around in the top of the first two games in a row against the same opponent: July 29-30, 2000, when the Tigers did it in Texas. The bad news there was, their pitchers didn't get to bat, thanks to that darned DH rule.

  • Our man, Brooks Kieschnick, has done it again. In back-to-back games last week, he hit a pinch homer one day (a game-tying shot with two outs in the ninth yet), then became the winning pitcher the next.

    Dave Smith, founder of the amazing Retrosheet site, looked at all games over the last 25 seasons and couldn't find any other player who had a pinch homer and a win in back-to-back games. In fact, only Gene Stechschulte, of the 2001 Cardinals, even pinch-hit and pitched in back-to-back games. But no win for him. So we'll keep on searching for somebody -- anybody -- who has matched yet another astonishing Brooks Kieschnick moment in baseball multitasking.

  • One of the great hitters' box-score lines of the year:

    Milton Bradley, April 16 vs. LA: 3-0-0-3.

    It isn't easy, going 0-for-3, with 3 RBI. But Bradley stroked three ground balls with Dave Roberts on third, and got him home with all three.

    Dave Smith reports that, believe it or not, Bradley is the 23rd player since 1969 to have a no-hit, three-RBI game. But two guys even topped that: David Ortiz (July 3, 2000), who drove in three runs with no at-bats (two sac flies and a bases-loaded walk), and Ben Petrick (Sept. 20, 2000), who drove in four runs with no hits (sac fly, bases-loaded walk, two ground balls).

  • Still more from the Retrosheet annals. When Oakland's Justin Duscherer balked in the winning run in the 14th inning April 19, he was only the third pitcher in the last 30 years to pull off one of those rarified extra-inning balkoffs.

    The others: Todd Fischer of the Angels, in the 12th inning of a game against the Red Sox on July 10, 1986; and Roger McDowell of the Mets, in the 12th inning of a game against the Dodgers on May 28, 1989.

  • It isn't every day you see two 41-year-old starters pitching against each other. Matter of fact, that Roger Clemens-Jeff Fassero matchup in Colorado last Saturday was the first in 17 years.

    Dave Smith checks in with the other seven duels in the last 25 seasons between pitchers 41 or older:

    Aug. 24 -- Tommy John (44) vs. Don Sutton (42)

    Aug. 4 -- Steve Carlton (42) vs. Don Sutton (42)
    July 7 -- Joe Niekro (42) vs. Tommy John (44)
    June 9 -- Phil Niekro (48) vs. Don Sutton (42)

    July 27 -- Tom Seaver (41) vs. Don Sutton (41)
    June 28 -- Phil Niekro(47) vs. Don Sutton (41)
    June 9 -- Don Sutton (41) vs. Tom Seaver (41)

  • The Marlins' highest-paid pitcher the last two years has been Mike Hampton -- even though it just so happens he has been pitching for the Braves all that time. But in a way, the Marlins have gotten their $15 million's worth because, amazingly, Hampton has started against the Marlins six times in that span but hasn't beaten them once.

    He's 0-3, with a 6.87 ERA, against Florida. And the Marlins are batting .297 against him.

  • The East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports that in the Diamondbacks' first 15 games this year, their opponents committed only three errors -- all by former Diamondbacks (St. Louis' Tony Womack, Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay and Craig Counsell).

  • Your leaders in shutouts by active pitchers: Roger Clemens (46) and Randy Johnson (36). But Ed Price reports that the Unit is closing in. Since July 1, 1999, Johnson has 11 shutouts -- and Clemens has thrown just one.

  • The Devil Rays' offense may be better than it used to be -- but it isn't quite the '97 Indians, either. At one point this month, they went 34-plus innings, and 134 at-bats, without an extra-base hit.

  • There were sure some weird sights in that Red Sox sweep of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium last weekend.

    On Saturday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox became the first team in the last 30 years to go 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position and still win.

    On Sunday, the Red Sox won despite starting an infield of David McCarty, Cesar Crespo, Pokey Reese and Mark Bellhorn. Combined big-league homers by those four last year: four (or one fewer than Miguel Cairo).

    The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports that over the last 23 innings of that series, Alex Rodriguez went 5-for-8 -- while all the rest of the Yankees were going 4-for-68.

    And when all that was finished, according to Elias, the Red Sox had won six of their first seven games against the Yankees for the first time in any season since 1913 -- the year before Babe Ruth joined the not-yet-cursified Sox.

  • Speaking of things you'd have a hard time programming into your laptop, the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe reports that just in a span of three days this month, the Tigers knocked off these mirror-image feats: First, they rolled up a 9-0 lead against the Twins (April 21) without getting one extra-base hit. And two nights later, against the Indians, they put up 11 runs in one inning -- without getting a single.

  • While we're on the subject of strange Tigers phenomena, Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler reports it's time to watch out for Alex Sanchez, whose batting average (.327) is actually higher than his on-base percentage (.321) -- thanks to one sac fly but zero walks.

    Over the last 10 years, only one player with as many hits as Sanchez (18) has made it through a season with a higher batting average than on-base percentage. That was the innovative Midre Cummings (.224 avg, .221 on-base pct., 19 hits for the '96 Pirates).

    The greatest performance in this category since 1900: Jim Adduci (.266 avg., .258 on-base pct., 25 hits, 3 sac flies, 0 walks for the 1988 Brewers).

    And the list of seven modern players who pulled off this creative feat with as many hits in a season as Sanchez includes none other than A's GM Billy Beane, who did it for the '89 A's -- and never played another game in the big leagues.

  • Red Sox-Yankees wasn't the only stunning sweep last weekend. The Fort Worth Star Telegram's T.R. Sullivan wonders what the odds were of the Rangers sweeping the Mariners -- despite starting three pitchers with zero wins (Ryan Drese, Joaquin Benoit and John Wasdin) against Joel Pineiro, Freddy Garcia and Ryan Franklin.

  • What's the biggest differential between a player's average at the end of two successive Aprils? Whatever it is, Derek Jeter has a shot at it. He was hitting 1.000 at the end of last April (mostly because he got hurt opening day). He was .831 points below that through Tuesday.

  • Meanwhile in Farm Land, no one will confuse the Wilmington Blue Rocks with, say, the Cardinals. John Sadak, the Blue Rocks' assistant director of broadcasting and media relations, determined that they were the last team in professional baseball to hit a home run this year. It took them 14 games -- until April 21 -- to finally hit one. Barry Bonds had nine all by himself before any Blue Rock hit any.

    Useless Reader Info

  • In our last Useless Info, we reported that Orioles speedster Jay Gibbons stole a base opening day -- after stealing ZERO bases the year before. But loyal reader Mike Doyle checked in to report we missed an opening-day steal by Paul Konerko, who hadn't swiped a base in more than two years. In his honor, here are the most at-bats without a stolen base over the 2002-03 seasons:

    1. John Olerud, 1,092

    2. Scott Hatteberg, 1,033

    3. Paul Konerko, 1,014

    4. Mike Lieberthal, 984

    Konerko, by the way, is the only one on that list who has gotten off the SB schneid this year.

  • Loyal reader Jake Lauer reports that Cubs centerfielder Corey Patterson has given new meaning to that term, "triple double." He has six doubles this year -- all of them in games in which he hit two doubles. Which means, somehow, he has three two-double games but no one-double games. Hard to do.

  • Loyal reader Jeremy Wahlman tells us that Chad Moeller wasn't the only guy this year to hit for the cycle. Kenny Lofton also did it April 16 for the Yankees -- except it was a different kind of cycle. In five symmetrical at-bats, he grounded out to third, short, second, first and the pitcher.

  • You don't find many pitchers whose ERA and batting average are essentially identical (minus the decimal-point technicality). But loyal reader Roger Katz reports that Dontrelle Willis is working on it. His career ERA: 2.95. His career batting average: .290.

  • Loyal reader David Hallstrom, our unofficial bobblehead czar, reports that the power of the bobblehead isn't what it used to be. When Brad Wilkerson went 0-for-2 last weekend on Brad Wilkerson Bobblehead Day, it all but assured that players who have been bestowed the honor of bobbleheadedness will go 0-for-April on their bobblehead days for the first time since we began tracking this thing four years ago. Wilkerson and Aubrey Huff are a combined 0 for 5. And only a miraculous hit by Eric Gagne on Friday can avert this disaster. But stay tuned.

  • Loyal reader James Moiani noticed that Phillies rookie Ryan Madson has more losses (one) than earned runs allowed (zero) and wondered how many pitchers have ever had a 0.00 ERA but still lost a game (or more). Well, it's happened. Here's the complete list since 1900, via Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia CD-Rom:

    Lefty Williams 1914 1 0.00 1
    Al Santorini 1968 1 0.00 3
    Clay Roe 1923 1 0.00 1 2/3
    Earl Moore 1908 1 0.00 26
    Jim Minshall 1974 1 0.00 4
    Ken Miller 1944 1 0.00 5
    Duster Mails 1926 1 0.00 1
    Eric Erickson 1914 1 0.00 5
    Alan Brice 1961 1 0.00 3
    Howard Armstrong 1911 1 0.00 3
    Raleigh Aitchison 1911 1 0.00 1 1/3

  • Finally, loyal reader Dave Sturtz has raised one of those topics that's guaranteed to earn us 7,000 emails in the next 15 minutes. He wonders if the Rockies have set a record -- for most players with the same name as another (more famous) player. They have THE OTHER Javy Lopez and THE OTHER Luis Gonzalez hanging around, in case you'd missed them.

    We're sure there are probably 98 other teams in history that can make this claim. So if you know of one with at least three players like that, drop us a line at uselessinfodept@yahoo.com.

    The Sultan's Corner

  • Barry Bonds may not have passed Ruth or Aaron yet in total homers. But he has passed everybody in one category -- Most Pitchers Homered Against. The top three, courtesy of the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR home run historian David Vincent:

    Barry Bonds 395
    Mark McGwire 362
    Fred McGriff 348

    If you're wondering, Aaron victimized 310 pitchers, Willie Mays got 267 and the Babe homered off 216.

  • And another Bonds milestone to watch, coming up in a mere nine homers: When he hits his 500th as a Giant, it will make them the only franchise in history to have three different players hit 500 home runs in their uniform. The only current teams with two, courtesy of the Sultan:

    Yankees -- Babe Ruth (659), Mickey Mantle (536)

    Cubs -- Sammy Sosa (515), Ernie Banks (512)
    Giants -- Willie Mays (646), Mel Ott (511)

    Just missing the two-500-homer-guy list: Braves (Aaron 773, Eddie Mathews 493).

    Just missing the three-500-homer-guy list: Yankees (Lou Gehrig finished with 493).

  • OK, still more Barry. When he homered this month off Eric Gagne, it marked the seventh time he'd hit a home run against the reigning Cy Young award winner at the same time he was the reigning MVP. And he was the first MVP ever to homer off a reigning Cy Young reliever.

    Bonds' homers off reigning Cys, courtesy of the Sultan:

    4/15/1993 Barry Bonds off Greg Maddux
    8/31/1993 Barry Bonds off Greg Maddux
    7/6/2002 Barry Bonds off Randy Johnson
    7/16/2002 Barry Bonds off Randy Johnson
    6/28/2003 Barry Bonds off Barry Zito
    8/30/2003 Barry Bonds off Randy Johnson

    4/16/2004 Barry Bonds off Eric Gagne

    And the other reigning MVPs who have done this more than once:

    5/28/1995 Jeff Bagwell off Greg Maddux
    6/3/1995 Jeff Bagwell off Greg Maddux

    5/9/1973 Johnny Bench off Steve Carlton
    5/9/1973 Johnny Bench off Steve Carlton
    5/9/1973 Johnny Bench off Steve Carlton

    9/6/1997 Juan Gonzalez off Pat Hentgen
    6/17/1999 Juan Gonzalez off Roger Clemens

    9/5/2000 Chipper Jones off Randy Johnson
    9/5/2000 Chipper Jones off Randy Johnson
    9/15/2000 Chipper Jones off Randy Johnson

  • When Sammy Sosa and Bonds each had two-homer games on April 18, it marked the first time in history a 500-homer man and a 600-homer man had ever had multihomer games on the same day. In fact, there have only been two occasions, according to the Sultan, when two 500-homer guys had multihomer games on the same day:

    6/15/2001 Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire

    7/26/2001 Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire

    Mike Lowell hit three home runs in just the seventh game ever played in Philadelphia's new Citizens Bank Ballpark. But was that a record? Nope. It's been topped by three parks, according to the Sultan:

    4/11/2000 Pac Bell (Game 1) Kevin Elster
    4/24/1958 LA Memorial Coliseum (Game 6) Lee Walls
    4/20/1977 Olympic Stadium (Game 6) Gary Carter

  • But Citizens Bank Park and San Diego's Petco Park did share one honor that had never before been accomplished. On April 18, there were game-ending home runs hit in both of them (by Doug Glanville in Philadelphia, by Ryan Klesko in San Diego). According to the Sultan, it's the first time two new parks have ever been the scene of walkoff homers on the same day.

  • Finally, the Brewers did something Tuesday that had happened only five previous times in history -- combine a cycle and a walkoff homer in the same game. Chad Moeller went cycling. Bill Hall hit the walkoff. Here are the only other times that's ever happened, courtesy of the Sultan:

    June 28, 1984, Red Sox -- Dwight Evans cycle, Dwight Evans GW HR
    April 22, 1980, Cubs -- Ivan DeJesus cycle, Barry Foote GW HR
    May 28, 1979, Royals -- George Brett cycle, George Brett GW HR
    Sept. 19, 1972, Twins -- Cesar Tovar cycle, Cesar Tovar GW HR
    Sept. 14, 1961, Cardinals -- Ken Boyer cycle, Ken Boyer GW HR

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to: uselessinfodept@yahoo.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.