Articles By Charlie Miller
Clayton Kershaw continues to dominate, the Dodgers are good, the Astros are bad and Alfonso Soriano has been really hot. These facts and more amazing stats from last week in baseball.
1.23 Clayton Kershaw’s ERA in August
The Dodgers’ lefty was sporting an ERA below 2.00 heading into the month and has improved his ERA from 1.87 to 1.80 in three starts this month.
42 Wins for the Los Angeles Dodgers since June 21
The Dodgers continue to run roughshod over the National League. The hottest team in baseball has but nine losses against 42 wins since June 21.
41 Wins for the Houston Astros all season
Houston fans can take solace that as of Sunday, the Astros were 1.5 games ahead of last season’s pace on August 18.
10 Winless starts for Cole Hamels of six or more innings and two runs or less
This hasn’t exactly been a memorable season for Hamels or the Philadelphia Phillies. The lefthander has pitched in some tough luck and suffered through some paltry run support.
0.24 ERA for Craig Kimbrel over his last 37 appearances
During that time, the Atlanta Braves’ closer is 29-for-29 in saves with 56 strikeouts and 33 hits and walks combined. Opponents are batting .150 with a .431 OPS.
0.658 Career WHIP for Andrew Albers
The Minnesota rookie has plowed through major league hitters like Little Leaguers since his recent call-up. In three career starts, the 27-year-old Canadian is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA. In 24.1 innings, he’s allowed just 14 hits and two walks.
15-13 San Diego’s record against best NL teams
The Padres seem to play their best against the best. The five National League teams in line for playoff spots — Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Cincinnati — have had trouble shaking the Padres, who have a cumulative winning mark vs. those five opponents.
.682 Alfonso Soriano’s batting average over five-game span last week
The prodigal Yankee began the week 0-for-3 and ended with an 0-for-6, but in between he smashed AL pitching at a 15-for-22 (.682) clip with five home runs and 18 RBIs over a five-game span. In only 21 games in pinstripes this season, Soriano is tied for fifth on the team in homers and seventh in RBIs.
3 Players in history with 10 hits, four homers and 14 RBIs in three games
Last week Soriano was otherworldly hot for the Yankees. Among his recent accomplishments was becoming just the third player in history with 10 or more hits, four or more home runs and 14-plus RBIs in a three-game span. You may remember that Shawn Green did that with the Dodgers in May 2002. But kudos if you knew that Hal Trosky pulled that off with the Indians in September 1936, a year in which he led the AL with 162 RBIs.
3 Teams with losing records to all four division rivals
For just about every team in the majors fans can point to some positive silver lining with a winning record over some other team. Yes, Miami has whipped up on the Mets and Houston seems to own the Angels this season. But three teams — both Chicago clubs and the Los Angeles Angels — own losing records to all four division rivals so far this season. Two other teams are perilously close to joining this club. The Mets somehow have managed to split their 14 games with the NL-best Atlanta Braves, while the Dodgers, of all teams, have losing records to three of the their four division foes and a 6-6 mark against their most hated rival, the San Francisco Giants.
12 Consecutive winless starts for Jerome Williams
Very little has gone right for manager Mike Scioscia and the Los Angeles Angels this season. After underachieving last year, the Halos are 7.5 games worse at the same point this season. Among the notable troubles have been a potential season-ending injury to Albert Pujols last month and Mike Trout’s recent hamstring injury. Starter Jerome Williams now owns the longest string of games started without a win — now at 12 starts. His last win came on June 12 in Baltimore.
.395 Batting average of Tampa Bay’s left side last week
Shorstop Yunel Escobar and third baseman Evan Longoria were raking last week. The left side of the Rays’ infield combined to bat .395 with eight extra-base hits.
56.2 Innings since Hiroki Kuroda has allowed a home run
That is the longest current streak of any starting pitcher.
56.0 Innings since Luis Avilan has allowed a home run
That is the longest current streak of any relief pitcher.
12 Games ahead of last year’s pace for Boston
The Red Sox suffered through a dismal season in 2012 finishing in last place in the American League East. This summer has been a breath of fresh air in Beantown with the Sox 12 games better than at this point last year.
17.5 Games behind last year’s pace for the White Sox
Robins Ventura’s team probably overachieved last season, leading the American League Central late in the season. The pendulum has swung in the opposite direction this season on the South Side in Chicago. The White Sox are 17.5 gmaes worse than at this time last year.
24 Braves Magic Number
It doesn’t happen often that you can start talking about magic numbers in mid-August, but the Braves could be closing in on clinching by Labor Day.
Oakland’s Josh Reddick goes on a binge in Toronto, Mo blows up, the Brewers can’t win on Thursdays and Clayton Kershaw can’t lose when he gets four runs. These numbers and more, in this edition of amazing MLB stats for the week of August 5-11.
5 Home runs for Josh Reddick in two days
Prior traveling to Toronto last weekend, Josh Reddick of the A’s had just five home runs in 276 at-bats this season. It’s also the number of home runs he hit over the course of eight plate appearances on Friday and Saturday. He came into the series with the Blue Jays batting .203 with a .326 slugging percentage. He hit three homers on Friday and two on Saturday.
.182 Braves’ opponents’ batting average last week
Atlanta pitching limited the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins to an average of 5.7 hits and 2.3 runs per game. The Braves scored one run total in their two losses.
.299 Boston’s opponents’ batting average last week
The Red Sox pitchers were considerably easier to solve than Atlanta’s last week. The Astros and Royals enjoyed batting against the Sox to the tune of a .299 average. Boston lost four of seven games on the road trip to Houston and Kansas City. The Astros plated 10 runs in a game won by Boston, and the Royals socked 16 hits in a Kansas City win.
21 Years since the Royals or the Tigers had a better record than the Yankees
You have to go all the way back to 1991 to find a season in which Detroit or Kansas City finished with a better record than the Yankees. The string ties the Braves, who have finished better than the Pirates for 21 years as well. As of Sunday, the Braves were a game ahead of the Pirates, but the Yankees trailed the Tigers by seven games and the Royals by 2.5.
27-29 Cardinals’ record since June 7
Since early June, the Redbirds have been terribly mediocre. With a 27-29 record over that span, the Cardinals have seen a four-game lead in the tough NL Central turn into a three-game deficit.
3 Consecutive blown saves by Mariano Rivera
The best closer the game has ever seen finally blew three consecutive games. The first on Wednesday at Chicago when he coughed up a one-run lead after allowing a double to Gordon Beckham and single to Adam Dunn in a game the White Sox would eventually win in 12 innings. On Friday in the Bronx, a two-out, two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera cost Rivera the save, but at least the Yankees won in the 10th on a Brett Gardner single. On Sunday, it was Cabrera again who victimized the closer. Rivera gave up solo shots to Cabrera and Victor Martinez to tie the game. Again, it was Gardner who bailed out Rivera with his second walk-off hit, this one a home run, in three days.
6-7 Blue Jays’ record when scoring five or more runs since the break
The Toronto offense has not been the Blue Jays’ problem since the All-Star break. In 13 games the Jays have plated five runs, usually enough to win for most teams. But in those games, the Jays have won six and lost seven.
18-33 Angels’ record vs. AL West teams
The Angels haven’t competed well within their own division this season, and that can’t make owner Arte Moreno very happy. Outside the AL West, the Angels are 35-31, but can’t seem to shake their closest rivals. Los Angeles has lost the last nine games within its division.
32 Days since the Phillies had a save
The last save for the Philadelphia Phillies came on July 11, the week before the All-Star Game. The Phillies are 7-18 during that stretch and produced just two save opportunities during that time, both resulting in blown saves by Jonathan Papelbon.
1-10 Record for the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday
While there is really no explanation, the Brewers own the worst record on any single day in the majors this season.
49-0 Clayton Kershaw’s career record with four runs of support
The Dodgers’ ace recently lowered his major league-best ERA to 1.88. And you would think with that miniscule number, his win-loss mark would be a bit better than 11-7. But he doesn’t exactly receive the best run support in the league, and it doesn’t take much. When he gets four or more runs in his career, he’s 49-0.
1 Game in the standings gained by St. Louis over the weekend
While the Redbirds were losing two of three at home to the rival Chicago Cubs, the NL Central-leading Pirates were getting swept at Colorado. So there was a little silver lining under the arch.
Mike Trout continues to wow fans in Anaheim, the Braves are once again the hottest team in baseball, J-Hey sparks Atlanta, lefties can't beat the Indians, Pedro Alvarez kills the Cardinals and A-Rod's financial loss. These and other fantastic facts are part of our amazing baseball stats for the week of July 29-August 4.
.719 Mike Trout OBP last week
Opponents could not kept the Angels’ All-Star outfielder off base last week. Trout batted .500 and drew 13 walks.
2 10-game winning streaks for Atlanta this season
The Atlanta Braves ended the weekend with a 10-game winning streak, their second this season. During the first streak in April, pitching ruled the day. The Braves batted .270 and scored 52 runs during that streak and the Braves’ staff posted a 1.48 ERA. During the most recent streak, the hitters posted a .299 average and scored 66 runs while the pitchers’ ERA rose to 2.30.
11 Consecutive wins for Cleveland when opposing a lefty
The Indians are 23-14 this season in games started by an opposing lefthander. The Tribe have won the last 11 games with the last loss coming on June 23 when Pedro Hernandez of Minnesota beat Cleveland 5-3.
8 Consecutive losses for St. Louis when the Cardinals don’t score 13
It’s been all-or-nothing for the Cardinals’ hitters of late. The Redbirds have lost eight of their last 11 and scored three runs just once in those eight losses. The three wins were courtesy of 13, 13 and 15 runs.
.217 Oakland batting average vs. Texas over the weekend
Just as the two teams battled down the stretch last season, the Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers are locked in a tight fight for the AL West title this season. The A’s ended the weekend three games up on the Rangers, but the Texas pitchers quieted the Oakland lineup during the three-game series over the weekend, holding the A’s hitters to a .217 average.
0 Games gained by Kansas City after winning nine of 10
The Royals have been red hot lately, winning nine of 10 games. The problem for manager Ned Yost and his troops is that both teams the Royals are chasing in the AL Central — the Tigers and Indians — have also won nine of 10.
10 Games changed in the NL West since July 7
On July 7, the Diamondbacks held a 4.5-game lead over the surging Dodgers in the NL West. Since then, Arizona hitters have struggled, batting just .237. The D-backs ended Sunday 5.5 games behind the Dodgers and fading fast. Going back to June 22, the difference is 15 games.
12 Runs scored by Jason Heyward last week
The Braves’ outfielder was moved to the top of the batting order prior to last week, and immediately began producing dividends. He parlayed a .469 OBP into 12 runs last week to lead the majors and spark the Braves’ offense during their current double-digit winning streak.
32 RBIs for Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates against St. Louis over the last two seasons
Since the beginning of last season, the Pirates’ third baseman has torched St. Louis pitching like no one else. No other player has more than 13 during that time. Considering his struggles to find consistency, it’s arguable that the St. Louis pitching staff is solely responsible for keeping the 2013 All-Star in the big leagues.
.171 Opponents batting average against the Pirates with the bases loaded
The Pirates’ pitchers have allowed just 13 hits — 10 singles and three doubles — with the bases loaded this season in 76 at-bats. The .171 average with the bases full is the lowest in the majors this season.
.363 Opponents batting average against the Giants with the bases loaded
On the opposite end, the Giants’ pitchers have given up 33 hits in 91 at-bats, including eight doubles, a triple and three grand slams.
2.46 Atlanta’s bullpen ERA this season
Led by closer Craig Kimbrel, the Braves’ bullpen has been the best in the majors this season.
10-15 Cincinnati’s record vs. Pittsburgh and St. Louis
The NL Central will most likely be determined by head-to-head games among the three contenders, which is as it should be. The Reds are trailing in that category with just 10 wins against 15 losses to their rivals. The Cardinals are an even 11-11 while the division-leading Pirates are 14-9.
5 Home runs by Kansas City clean-up hitters this season
With only five long balls from the clean-up spot, the Royals own the lowest total in the majors. The Royals’ No. 4 batters also have the fewest RBIs with 44.
33.5 Million dollars Alex Rodriguez stands to lose during his suspension
If Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension holds up, the Yankees’ infielder will lose his $25 million salary for 2014 and almost $8.5 million for the 49 games he will miss this season. A-Rod is scheduled to begin serving his suspension on Thursday, August 8, but all signs indicate that he will appeal and continue to play during that process.
3.8 Million dollars Ryan Braun stands to lose during his suspension
By accepting a 65-game suspension this season, the Milwaukee outfielder will forfeit close to four million dollars in salary this season. If his suspension had carried into next season, his forfeiture would have been much greater due to his higher salary.
5 Times Josh Hamilton has driven in Albert Pujols this season
Certainly, the Angels envisioned much more production from their two superstars when Hamilton was signed over the winter. The plan was to bat Hamilton fourth behind Pujols. Now with the first baseman/designated hitter injured and likely out for the season, the total may not improve.
30-59 Miami Marlins record when Jose Fernandez doesn’t start
The worst team in the National League is really bad when their ace, Jose Fernandez, doesn’t take the hill. The young righthander is supposedly on an innings limit, so he has a limited number of starts left this season. When he starts, the Marlins are 13-8 (.619), which is the equivalent of a 100-win season. In games started by everyone else, the Marlins are 30-59 (.337), or the equivalent of a 107-loss season.
Last season the most impactful trades didn’t seem that impressive when they were announced. But the additions of Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro by San Francisco shifted the balance of power toward the Giants in the NL West and eventually led to a World Series championship. Often it’s the little things that seem to matter most, like solid defense, eating innings and clubhouse unity.
The frenzy at the trade deadline last Wednesday never really materialized, but there were a handful of significant trades over the past few weeks that could affect the 2013 pennant races.
Boston Red Sox
The Sox weren’t shy about giving up some prospects, but were steadfast in holding on to rising star Xander Bogaerts, a 20-year-old shortstop expected to contribute next season. Boston acquired a major addition to the rotation with Jake Peavy. The former Cy Young winner usually keeps his teams in games and logs innings, taking pressure off the bullpen. He has some health questions, and the likelihood that he could miss some starts is higher than the Sox would like. But if he makes 10 starts for Boston, the Red Sox are much more likely to fend off Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Matt Thornton, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a separate deal, deepens the Red Sox bullpen.
With the impending suspension of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, the Tigers took a preemptive strike in trading for Jose Iglesias from Boston. The defensive whiz will immediately upgrade the Tigers’ defense up the middle, and the former Cuban star hasn’t been too shabby with the bat. Detroit has enough offense to withstand the loss of Peralta’s bat, and Iglesias improves the defense. Avisail Garcia is a rising star, but the Tigers need to ensure their position in the playoffs this season, so this deal makes a ton of sense. Other than the Peralta potential situation, the Tigers’ glaring need all season has been bullpen help. Problem solved with the addition of Jose Veras from Houston. Veras has been the lone bright spot in Houston this season with 19 saves.
Like their brethren on the South Side, the Cubs aren’t expecting to seriously contend this season or next. So the Cubs are building their farm system with an eye toward sustaining success through the second half of this decade. The Cubs’ return for Scott Feldman and Matt Garza brought good value for the future, and they were able to unload Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano.
Chicago White Sox
Clearly the White Sox are not going anywhere in 2013, and with an aging roster and the rise of Cleveland and Kansas City, even 2014 may not hold high hopes. So stocking the system with players like Garcia, who should be immediately useful in the big leagues, and prospects Francelis Montas, a 20-year-old flamethrower, J.B. Wendelken, another highly touted pitcher, and infielder Cleuluis Rondon, the White Sox have a brighter future than they did a few days ago. Brandon Jacobs was acquired from Boston in the Thornton deal earlier.
The season is quickly slipping away from the D-Men. I had the Diamondbacks in the Jake Peavy pool, so that didn’t work out too well. The pitching staff is not too bad, especially if Trevor Cahill can come back and be productive soon. Left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher was acquired from San Diego along with minor leaguer Matt Stites, a closer at Double-A, for Ian Kennedy. While this helps the bullpen, offensively the D-backs need lots of help. Paul Goldschmidt has twice as many homers and RBIs as any teammate. He must have some help. Arizona did not improve its roster enough to come back and catch the Dodgers.
The acquisitions of Scott Feldman and Bud Norris boost the rotation, and Francisco Rodriguez adds experienced depth to the bullpen, but the club really could use some pop at DH and protection for Chris Davis. The Orioles are 0-for-11 after an intentional walk to Davis, and don’t think teams don’t notice trends like that. The slugger will be avoided more and more as the season goes along. If rookie Henry Urrutia can fill that role as DH/Davis protector, then the Orioles will have played their hand well. If not, Buck Showlater will be left wishing he had a few more weapons in his arsenal.
Reports that the Rangers were willing to listen on any player speak to how desperate the team is to improve its offense, especially in light of the impending suspension of right fielder and best run producer Nelson Cruz. The team's slugging percentage dropped to .362 in June. The acquisition of Matt Garza gives the Rangers a respectable 1-2-3 punch with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Garza. But the Rangers need offense badly, and that’s with Cruz in the lineup.
With Andrew McCutchen warming up and Pedro Alvarez finally becoming the power threat the Pirates envisioned when they made him the No. 2 overall selection in 2006, the offense is not bad. But for the season the Bucs are batting just .243 with a .390 slugging percentage. A hitter like Justin Morneau or even Marlon Byrd could have been helpful. But the biggest problem could be the bullpen. Clint Hurdle’s plan was working perfectly with Mark Melancon setting up closer Jason Grilli, who was near perfect. But with Grilli out for what could be an extended time, all the roles have shifted and Pittsburgh may begin to let a few close games slip away without additional help.
New York Yankees
With the Orioles adding two starting pitchers and Francisco Rodriguez, the Red Sox bolstering their rotation and even the Rays strengthening their bullpen, the Yankees didn’t do much to address some dire needs. Yes, bringing Alfonso Soriano back was a positive step, but there was nothing done to beef up the pitching staff or find a right-handed hitting first baseman, to say nothing of the gaping hole at third base. The Yankees have gotten just five home runs from the hot corner this season, or the same number the Cubs have gotten from their pitching staff.
The Cardinals’ bats go silent in Atlanta, Jeter returns with a homer, Chris Sale’s tough luck continues and Colorado just can’t win three in a row. These fantastic figures and more amazing MLB stats for the week of July 22-28.
1-8 Record for Chris Sale since the beginning of June
During that time, the tough-luck lefty of the White Sox owns a 2.84 ERA, 1.096 WHIP and opponents are batting just .232.
66 Shutouts by lefthanders against the Red Sox at Fenway Park
In the 102-year history of Fenway Park, there have been just 66 complete game shutouts by left-handed pitchers against the Sox. Matt Moore of the Rays is the latest lefty to shut down the Sox in Boston after his gem last Monday night.
7 Remaining games for Atlanta against winning teams
The Atlanta Braves have 57 games remianing this season, but only seven of them will be against teams that currently have a winning record. The Braves will face the Cardinals — a team they just swept — four times in St. Louis, and Cleveland three times at home.
10 RBIs for Michael Bourn over his last four games
Batting in the leadoff spot for Cleveland, Michael Bourn has been an RBI machine recently.
28 Games the New York Yankees went without a right-handed home run
From June 26-July 27, the Bronx Bombers hit a scant 10 home runs, all of them by left-handed hitters. Robinson Cano led the charge with five, Lyle Overbay hit three and Ichiro Suzuki connected twice. On Sunday, right-handed batters Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano both swatted long balls to break the month-long drought.
13:0 Jose Fernandez’s strikeout:walk ratio vs. Pirates
Last week, the Marlins’ young ace won two games and was devastating to Pittsburgh hitters. In eight innings against the Bucs, he whiffed 13 without walking a batter.
5 Saves for Steve Cishek
Last week, the Miami Marlins closer was busy holding leads for the Fish, something of a rarity this season. Not that Cishek hasn’t been able to hold leads, it’s just that his teammates have given him so few leads to hold. Going into last week the closer had 17 saves. In five appearances last week, he added five to his total.
.154 Cardinals’ batting average in weekend series at Atlanta
St. Louis brought the league’s best offense into Atlanta over the weekend and left with a bat rack full of termites. Atlanta pitchers held St. Louis hitters to a .154 average and just three runs in the three games. Cardinals batters whiffed 22 times and walked three times, grounding into as many double plays (3) as runs.
0.36 Max Scherzer’s WHIP last week
The big righthander tossed two gems last week logging 14 innings and allowing just five hits and no walks for a 0.36 WHIP. He struck out 12 batters and is now 15-1 on the season with a 3.01 ERA.
.196 Indians’ opponents’ batting average last week
The Cleveland pitching staff held opponents to a .196 average and .289 slugging last week, which included two shutouts over Texas.
48 Games since Colorado won three in a row
The Rockies haven’t managed to win three games in succession since way back in May. Tyler Chatwood pitched six shutout innings and the Rockies roughed up Tim Lincecum to win three in a row to improve to 27-21 on the season. Since then, the Rox have won back-to-back games seven times, yet failed to win a third. The drought is the longest current stretch in the majors.
.199 Phillies’ batting average last week
The Philadelphia hitters struggled mightily last week during the trip to St. Louis and Detroit. They batted just .199 with only eight extra-base hits and 10 runs in the six games, all losses.
Erik Bedard willingly leaves a no-hitter, the Marlins can’t score and Brandon Phillips emerges as the best lineup protection in the game. These stats and more in this edition of Amazing MLB Stats for the week of July 15-21.
0 Hits allowed by Erik Bedard in 6.1 innings against the Mariners
Houston Manager Bo Porter lifted Bedard after issuing a walk in the seventh inning. Few pitchers are removed in the midst of a no-hitter, but Porter’s explanation was simple: “He told me too.” It seems that Bedard didn’t have a hankering to top 110 pitches, no matter the situation. At the time he left the game, he had thrown 109 pitches.
.857 Brandon Phillips’ batting average following an intentional walk to Joey Votto
It seems the best personal protector in the majors resides in Cincinnati, not Detroit. The Tigers’ Prince Fielder is 5-for-11 with nine RBIs and an intentional walk following an intentional pass to Miguel Cabrera, but that isn’t in Phillips’ territory. Phillips is 6-for-7 with a walk, HBP, three sacrifice flies and 11 RBIs, including two walk-offs.
.000 Batting average of the Orioles following an intentional pass to Chris Davis
On the other hand, Davis gets no protection in Baltimore. He’s received 10 intentional walks this season, and Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy have combined to go 0-for-9 with a walk. That would make Davis’ assault on the all-time American League season home run record a bit tough if teams continue to pitch around the slugger.
37 Consecutive innings in which the Marlins have been shut out
The Miami Marlins’ offense has been non-existent since before the All-Star break. The Nationals held the Fish scoreless in the final six innings prior to the break. Over the weekend, the Brewers’ staff shut out the Marlins three times, the finale going 13 innings.
250 Wins for Buck Showalter as manager for each of four different teams
Recently, Showalter became just the fourth manager to win as many 250 games with a quartet of teams. He won 319 games as the manager at Texas, 313 as the Yankees’ skipper, 250 with Arizona, and now 252 with Baltimore. He joins Joe Torre, Gene Mauch and Dick Williams in the select group. Torre accomplished that with five different teams.
96 RBIs for the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera
Through Detroit’s first 97 games, Cabrera has averaged close to an RBI per game. With four more RBIs, Cabrera will become the 17th player in history with 10 100-RBI seasons. Alex Rodriguez owns the record with 14.
3 No-hitters at the hands of the Lansing Lugnuts
The Lugnuts, the Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, have been the victims of three no-hitters this season. The most recent came at the hands of Victor Sanchez of Clinton (Mariners affiliate) in a 1-0 loss. On April 14, Kyle Schepel of South Bend (Diamondbacks) blanked the Lugnuts over seven innings as part of a doubleheader. Four Bowling Green (Rays) pitchers combined to hold the Lugnuts hitless on June 21 at Bowling Green.
17 Runs allowed by Atlanta in three games to AL’s worst offense
One would think that the lowest-scoring team in the American League would be a happy sight for the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. Well, not so fast. The Sox torched Atlanta pitching for 17 runs over the weekend, taking two of three in the interleague series.
1 Hit needed to plate four runs and win by Seattle
After Bedard was lifted in the tilt with Seattle, the Mariners tallied just one hit but managed four runs in the win over Houston.
As news broke yesterday of Ryan Braun’s suspension, I am reminded that when cheating and performance-enhancing drugs are involved, there are many more losers than winners. The fans, the Brewers’ organization, MLB, the Players Association, Braun’s teammates, his opponents, Braun and his family — and even Aaron Rodgers — are all losers in this scenario.
While this is a step in the right direction, and potentially a sizeable step, this is not a win for Major League Baseball. Just as pennant fever is beginning to catch on in cities around the country, fans are reminded of a sordid underbelly of professional sports. And now fans must question how rampant PED use is in MLB. Fans have been told that the game is cleaner than it has been since the 1980s, and we want to believe that, but now there is doubt.
I do believe the game is much cleaner now, and that a vast majority of players want to continue vigorous efforts to rid the sport of PEDs. I believe the process is working. But as we’ve seen from this entire Biogenesis affair, there is still much work to do. As has always been the case — and will unfortunately always be the case — there’s more money in cheating than there is in testing, so for MLB, like the Olympics, cycling, the NFL and other governing bodies, the chase will never end.
I don’t think Braun received due punishment. I think he got off light. However, I understand why MLB is interested in quickly resolving this latest PED issue.
Neither MLB nor Braun has presented any evidence to me (shocker). So any evaluation on my part is a bit presumptive. Having said that, if Braun is guilty of PED use — and by accepting this penalty it is reasonable to assume that he is indeed guilty — a 65-game suspension right now is letting him off too easy.
So why would MLB agree to such a light sentence?
A quick and absolute resolution is good for MLB. Lingering questions and doubt cloud an already murky issue. MLB is likely willing to shorten suspensions in exchange for speedy resolutions.
This first domino in the Biogenesis case will be the standard for the remainder of MLB’s cases against other players. From the physical evidence collected from Biogenesis and, perhaps, the information provided by Tony Bosch, a former employee, MLB had enough to convince Braun that the situation could be worse. Now Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and others face similar dilemmas. How hard do they fight these allegations?
So, with one suspension in the books, MLB can move quickly to close this ugly chapter before the 2013 pennant races heat up, which is what this time of year should be about.
But here’s why this punishment is not enough. Here’s why I don’t feel sorry for Ryan Braun.
Braun will lose close to $3.5 million, a little more than a third of a season’s worth of stats, the trust of the fans, his reputation, and likely any chance of a legacy as one of the great hitters in the game. But let’s take a look at what Braun has left in his wake along the way.
With what will be a 65-game suspension, Braun will forfeit close to $3.5 million, which is his salary for 65 games. That’s not a small sum. However, he cheated and lied his way into a long-term contract that guarantees him close to $120 million through 2020. No suspension for drug use can void that deal. So, $3.5 million is a pittance to pay. A few years ago, the Brewers’ organization with limited resources, could not afford to pay two superstars like Braun and Prince Fielder. The Brewers chose Braun and this is the thanks they get?
So, why would Braun accept a suspension without a fight that costs him more than $3 million? Because it could be that he doesn’t want to fight a losing battle. Or it could be that risking a longer suspension that would drag into next season would cost him even more. This season, Braun loses about $52,400 per game. Beginning next season the tab grows to about $61,700 per game. Besides, aside from the money, this season is a loss already for the Brewers, and with a nagging wrist injury, Braun would be able to return healthy, rested and fresh for spring training. So the time and money lost could be much worse.
He has tarnished his reputation. But if we remember his last altercation with MLB over illicit substance use, Braun’s defense was based on the handling of his specimen. The outfielder and his camp called into question the integrity of the collector Dino Laurenzi, Jr., attempting to tarnish his reputation. There is no sympathy here for anyone who chooses to unfairly question another’s integrity merely in the name of self-preservation.
Braun has lost the trust of baseball fans in Milwaukee and across the country. Poor guy. Again, it’s difficult to feel bad for a guy who accepted the 2011 NL MVP award at the BBWAA dinner with the following statements: “I’ve always believed that a person’s character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity. I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I’ve done in my career has been done with that respect and appreciation in mind. And that is why I’m so grateful and humbled to accept this award tonight.”
And what about that 2011 MVP award? How would you expect Matt Kemp to react? Braun is not being asked to give that trophy back. And how do the members of the Arizona Diamondbacks that season feel? Braun, after testing positive to grossly inflated testosterone levels at the end of the season, was allowed to play in the postseason and batted .500 in the five games vs. Arizona. Do any of those guys feel cheated? You bet they do.
So, 65 games during a season going nowhere in Milwaukee and $3.5 million just doesn’t seem like much to pay for robbing baseball, lying to teammates and fans, challenging an innocent man’s integrity and building a career based on a lie.
The Rays’ pitching is stingy, the Mariners’ bats get lively, a Brew Crew starter finally completes a game, the Pirates finally answer the A’s and Tim Lincecum finds his groove with a no-no. These notable numbers and more from the week of July 8-14.
3 Complete games by the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching staff last week
The Rays' starters completed more games last week than starters of 18 teams have all season.
8:1 Strikeout:Walk ratio of the Rays’ pitching staff last week
The Rays are challenging the Red Sox in the AL East having won 17 of their last 21 and 14 of 16. The pitching dominated the Twins and Astros last week with 64 strikeouts and just eight walks. Rookie Chris Archer made two starts and logged 15 innings without issuing a free pass.
418 Games played by the Milwaukee Brewers between complete games
Milwaukee starting pitchers have taken the hill in 418 games — including 11 in the postseason — without throwing a complete game. Wily Peralta notched the first complete game of his career and the first for the Brewers since Yovani Gallardo tossed a two-hit shutout of the Braves on April 5, 2011. The game was also the first that Peralta’s mom, Miledy Peralta, saw her son pitch in person as a professional.
16-3 Pirates record when scoring two or more runs since June 16
Pittsburgh’s pitching has been dynamite over the past month. It doesn’t take much from the offense for the Bucs to pull out a win. Since the middle of June, whenever the lineup has mustered as much as two runs, the Pirates’ pitching makes it stand up — at least 16 of the past 19 times.
34 Home wins for Tampa Bay
That total is the most in baseball, but the Rays’ 21-22 road record leaves them with the third-best record in the American League, and fifth-best overall. If the Rays don’t win the AL East, it could be important that they host the wild card game rather than go on the road.
.524 Seattle Mariners’ slugging percentage last week
The mark led the majors as the Mariners put up 48 runs over seven games. The team batted .310 with 19 doubles and 11 home runs. The pitching staff wasn’t quite up to the task, which led to a 4-3 record. The Mariners have now homered in 22 consecutive games, raising their slugging percentage from .378 to .401 over that stretch.
74 Starts between complete games for Tim Lincecum
For more than two seasons, the former Cy Young winner has struggled with velocity and command. But last Saturday, The Freak finally put it all together and no-hit the San Diego Padres. Lincecum broke a string of 74 starts without finishing what he started.
24-14 Philadelphia’s record within the NL East
The Phillies own the best record in games within their division. They have just three NL East games (Mets) prior to the trade deadline. All but four of the Phillies’ September games are within their division, which may give them confidence they can win the division this season.
+127 St. Louis Cardinals’ run differential
The Redbirds ended the first half with a +127 run differential, easily the best in the majors. Only three other teams in the majors have a run differential more than half that of St. Louis (Boston +91, Detroit +89 and Atlanta +78).
2 Players in history with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs prior to the All-Star break
Both Chris Davis of Baltimore and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera accomplished that this season.
11-1 Oakland’s all-time record vs. Pittsburgh
Since Interleague play began in 1997, no team has dominated another across league lines like the Oakland A’s have owned the Pittsburgh Pirates. The teams have rarely met, but when they got together prior to this season, it was all Oakland. The A’s swept three-game series in 2002, ’04 and ’10 before taking the first two of the three-game set this year. But lefthander Francisco Liriano helped the Pirates break the string by leading Pittsburgh to a 5-0 win on July 10, giving the Pirates a 1-11 record against the A’s.
.488 Allen Craig’s batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs
The highest average in any one season in the 2000s with a minimum of 60 plate appearances is .472 by Ichiro Suzuki with Seattle in 2004. At .475, Miguel Cabrera of Detroit also has a chance to top Ichiro’s mark this season.
9 Extra-base hits in last nine games for the Yankees
The Yankees have been anything but the Bronx bombers of late. Over the past nine games, they’ve managed just five doubles and four home runs. All nine games were played at Yankees Stadium, typically a hitter-friendly park for the home team.
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (St. Louis Cardinals) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
Tomorrow, MLB will announce the 2013 All-Star teams, and undoubtedly there will be some questions. Anytime you have fans electing players, there’s an overwhelming element of popularity, not necessarily performance. Players have their say as well, with the ability to select a few of the reserves, then the managers — Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Jim Leyland of Detroit — will fill out the enormous rosters of 33 players. I’m pretty sure I’ll disagree with the fans, who will elect the starting lineups, and most likely will disagree with the managers who select the reserves. After that process, and the rosters are announced on Saturday, fans once again will have the opportunity to make the final 34th selection for both teams.
That’s right. There are 34 players on each All-Star roster. So before we get to my selections, let’s think about that number 34. Of that number, 13 will be pitchers. That leaves 21 position players. If you took the two best players at each position, that accounts for only 16 spots, so if the fans totally screw up and elect a player who is not one of the best two at his position, there is room to cover that mistake, if the managers so choose. And inevitably, there will be the teams that have no true deserving All-Stars, like maybe Houston, Miami and the Cubs, for example. With 21 position players and 13 pitchers, I think there are enough roster spots available to cover that as well.
It’s time to end the argument about having every team represented costing deserving players All-Star recognition. Maybe some players are more deserving, but if players are not one of the best two at their respective position, they have no real argument in my mind. If you take away the rule that every team must be represented, then among the next dominoes to fall should be shrinking the roster to 28 and taking away the fans’ vote.
I like having the fans select the starting lineups. I like having every team represented. I don’t like tying anything about the All-Star Game to where World Series games are played, which is an ill-conceived idea.
But I’ll step off of the soapbox for now. Here are the players who would receive my vote:
(starting lineup and batting order)
LF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
The rising superstar isn’t having quite the season he put together last year, but he’s the best outfielder in the AL.
2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston
There are several reasons the Red Sox quickly erased their struggles from a year ago, but Pedroia has had the biggest impact.
3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
There is currently no Cabrera-Trout debate for MVP this season — it’s all Miggy, who has 85 RBIs through the Tigers’ first 84 games.
1B Chris Davis, Baltimore
Actually, the MVP debate may be Davis-Cabrera, if there is a debate. Baltimore’s first baseman leads the majors with 32 home runs.
CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
Acquired in a heist from Seattle for pitcher Erik Bedard, Jones has played at an All-Star caliber level for the past five seasons in Baltimore.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi is the best DH alive, perhaps in history. He’s been in the top 10 in the AL in average, homers and RBIs for most of the first half.
RF Nelson Cruz, Texas
The Rangers’ right fielder makes the starting lineup because of his ability to hit in the clutch.
C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
OK, maybe his contract is becoming an albatross for Minnesota, but Mauer can still hit and is solid behind the plate.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit
The candidates at shortstop are few in the American League, but Peralta deserves to start even in a crowded field. Only Cabrera has a higher average on the AL Central leaders.
P Max Scherzer, Detroit
Most fans outside Detroit recognize the name Verlander much more quickly, but Scherzer is the Tigers’ best starter with a 13-0 record.
Sal Perez, C, Kansas City
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston
Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore
J.J. Hardy, SS, Baltimore
Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto
Clay Buchholz, P, Boston
Hisashi Iwakuma, P, Seattle
Felix Hernandez, P, Seattle
Chris Sale, P, Chicago
Bartolo Colon, P, Oakland
Yu Darvish, P, Texas
Justin Masterson, P, Cleveland
Glen Perkins, P, Minnesota
Mariano Rivera, P, New York
Joe Nathan, P, Texas
Jim Johnson, P, Baltimore
Grant Balfour, P, Oakland
(starting lineup and batting order)
LF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
CarGo is on the short list of MVP candidates in the NL. His production could suffer without Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup for the Rockies.
CF Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh
Beyond Gonzalez, there are about six outfielders with equal arguments to start. But McCutchen makes the Pirates go and plays terrific defense.
DH Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Many players believe Votto is the best pure hitter in the game.
1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
The NL RBI leader deserves the start ahead of Votto at first this season, but maybe never again.
3B David Wright, New York
Quickly becoming Mr. Met in New York. The hometown fans will love seeing their superstar at the hot corner on the 16th.
C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Widely considered the best defensive catcher in the majors, Yadi leads the NL in batting and has 45 RBIs. The Cardinals’ leader sits atop the MVP list for the first half.
2B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis
Having never played second in the minors, and with just 18 innings at the position prior to this season, Carpenter leads all NL second basemen in batting average, runs, extra-base hits and OPS.
RF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
Surprise! The outfielder representing the Brew Crew is not named Braun.
SS Sean Segura, Milwaukee
In all fairness, Tulowitzki of Colorado deserves to be the All-Star shortstop, having put together a brilliant first half. But being able to take the field is important for an All-Star and Segura is having a stellar season for the Brewers.
P Matt Harvey, New York
Maybe Adam Wainwright is more deserving to start but not by much. But I can’t resist having the Mets’ youngster throw the first pitch in the midsummer classic in his home ballpark.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
Allen Craig, 1B, St. Louis
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego
Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati
Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia
Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado
Carlos Beltran, OF, St. Louis
Adam Wainwright, P, St. Louis
Clayton Kershaw, P, Los Angeles
Cliff Lee, P, Philadelphia
Patrick Corbin, P, Arizona
Jordan Zimmermann, P, Washington
Travis Wood, P, Chicago
Jose Fernandez, P, Miami
Jason Grilli, P, Pittsburgh
Craig Kimbrel, P, Atlanta
Edward Mujica, P, St. Louis
Jonathan Papelbon, P, Philadelphia
Aroldis Chapman, P, Cincinnati
Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis goes off, no one steals on the Dodgers and Cardinals, Chris Davis is still crushing it and Brandon Phillips loves the bases loaded. These and more amazing MLB stats for the week of June 24-30.
.606 Jason Kipnis’ OBP last week
In addition to batting .478 for the week, the Indians' Kipnis drew eight walks to boost his on-base percentage to .606. He scored nine runs and drove home 10.
.459 Batting average for a Cabrera in June
But it wasn’t Miguel. It was shortstop Everth of San Diego before he injured a hamstring and missed a couple of weeks. The mark was the highest average in the majors for the month.
0 Stolen Bases allowed by the Dodgers
Last week, there were just four stolen base attempts against the Dodgers and none were successful. Ben Revere — otherwise successful 80 percent of the time — was caught twice, Jimmy Rollins — successful 87 percent of the time since 2005 — was nabbed, as was Gregor Blanco of the Giants. Pitcher Stephen Fife was on the mound for three of the attempts, and A.J. Ellis was behind the plate for three.
0 Stolen Base attempts against the Cardinals
Last week, no one even tried to run on St. Louis. In June, the Cardinals allowed just two stolen bases in four attempts.
7 Times a player has finished June with 31 or more home runs
Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles homered twice on June 29 and once on June 30 to finish June with a total of 31 home runs. Barry Bonds has the highest mark with 39 in 2001. Ken Griffey Jr. is the only player to accomplish it twice.
5 Teams Without a 3-Game winning Streak in June
The St. Louis Cardinals claimed the majors’ best record throughout the month of June, but they were among the five teams that never put together a winning streak of more than two games in the entire month. The Mets, Rockies, Giants and Mariners were the others.
12-0 Record for Kansas City in June when the lineup produces four runs
The Royals’ pitchers have shown that they don’t need much support. Last month, when the offense produced four runs, it resulted in a W. The Royals were a disappointing 4-5 when the pitchers allowed exactly three runs.
.299 June batting average for the Boston Red Sox
It was the best in the majors for the month, which helped the Sox increase their lead in the AL East.
.225 June batting average for the New York Yankees
Better than only the lowly Houston Astros, the lack of hitting caused the Yankees to slip to fourth place in the AL East.
7 Hits with the bases loaded for Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati this season
In nine at-bats with the bases full this season, Phillips has six singles, a home run and 15 RBIs.
-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)
The A’s are hot, the Yankees and Rangers’ bats are not. Competition in the NL West is getting tight and Dustin Pedroia is tough with two. These and more amazing MLB stats are here from the week of June 10-16.
22-7 Oakland A’s record since May 15
The A’s have been smoking hot since the middle of May. With a 22-7 mark from May 16-June 16, the A’s own the best record in the majors during that time, three games better than the next-best mark of the Braves.
.000 Opponents batting average off of Johnny Cueto with the bases loaded
This isn’t that small of a sample. It’s over the past three seasons. Batters are 0-for-29 with three walks against the Reds’ righthander with the bases full.
8-2-3 W-L-T in road series for St. Louis this season
The Cardinals finally lost a road series for the first time since the opening set at Arizona. And it wasn’t to the division rival Reds, or the NL East-leading Braves, or even one of the contenders in the West. The Redbirds’ road series loss came at the hand of the worst team in baseball, the Miami Marlins.
.333 Dustin Pedroia’s batting average with an 0-2 count
That number includes the past two seasons. Not surprisingly, it is the highest among all players with as many as 50 plate appearances down 0-2.
24 Runs scored by the Yankees in their last nine games
Maybe the New Yorkers are missing Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and — dare we say — Alex Rodriguez — a little bit.
8 Runs scored by the Rangers over six games
Not to be outdone by the Yankees’ pathetic offense, the Rangers hitters took a vacation as well. During a recent six-game skid, Texas was outscored 34-8.
2 Games separating four teams in the NL West
After a few hiccups by division leader Arizona, and a torrid streak by the Padres, the NL West has become a cluster of four contenders. With Colorado losing Troy Tulowitzki for a significant period, the Rockies may struggle to stay in the hunt. With Yasiel Puig doing his thing and Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp set to rejoin the Dodgers’ lineup soon, it may be too early to count the Dodgers out, making this a five team free-for-all in September.
5 San Diego pitchers with saves over a 10-day period
From June 6-15, the Padres won seven games, using five pitchers to get six saves. Lefty Eric Stults didn’t need relief help in a two-hit, 2-1 win over Arizona. But the other wins required bullpen assistance as Brad Boxberger, Dale Thayer and Nick Vincent each notched their first saves of the season. The saves were the first in the careers of both Boxberger and Vincent. Long-time setup man Luke Gregerson notched a pair of saves over this stretch before closer Huston Street returned from the DL to his familiar role and adding a save.
.444 Anthony Rendon’s June batting average
The Washington Nationals’ highly touted prospect has been swinging a hot bat this month. Too bad his teammates haven’t joined the hit parade. They have combined to hit just .216 in June.
5.54 First-inning ERA for Shelby Miller
If hitters are going to get to the Cardinals’ young righthander, they better erupt early. Miller’s ERA is a robust 5.54 in the first inning, then drops to a miniscule 1.58 afterwards. Opponents are batting .357 in the first frame, then just .175 after he settles in.
30 Games since San Francisco has won three in a row (and counting)
You have to flip the calendar all the way back to May 12 to find the last three-game winning streak by the Giants. That was 30 games ago. Since then, the defending champs are 12-18.
.211 Aggregate batting average of White Sox 4-5-6 hitters
Typically, the heart of the batting order is expected to produce runs and set the tone for a team’s offensive punch. Guess this is why the Sox have dropped to last place.
0-for-3 Mets bullpen in save opps in June
I’m not sure what is more startling about this. The fact that the Mets are 0-for save opportunities, or that they have just three chances this month.
1 Games in June in which the Royals have allowed more than three runs
The Kansas City pitching staff has buckled down and been downright nasty this month. Only once in their first 15 games have the Royals allowed more than three runs. That is the definition of keeping your team in the game and giving yourself a chance to win. The Royals are 11-4 in those games.
.500 OBP of Yasiel Puig through his first 13 games
The rookie outfielder continues to provide amazing stats with each game. Once Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez join the youngster in the lineup regularly, the Dodgers just may battle back into contention.
2.91 Astros ERA in June
Sure, we’re only half way through the month, but after a 5.55 ERA in April followed by a 5.06 number in May, Houston fans should celebrate any ERA under 4.00 at this point.
.389 Adam Dunn’s batting average last week
With that huge week, the Big Donkey raised his season average from .165 to .189, or still about 96 points below his weight.
11-15 Record for the Texas Rangers without Ian Kinsler
The Rangers’ second baseman returned last week after being out of the starting lineup for 26 games. Kinsler made his last start on May 16, before returning over the weekend. The Rangers were 27-14 prior to his injury.
5 Key number of runs for the Pirates
In June, when the Bucs plate five runs or more, they are 5-0. If the pitching staff coughs up five or more, not good. The Pirates are 0-6 when giving up five or more runs in June.
3-9 New York Mets record in June, worst in the majors
4-11 Texas Rangers record in June, worst in the AL
-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)
Puigmania hits Los Angeles, the Redbirds finally win in extras, Cleveland can't win on the road and is Howie Kendrick really the Angels' best hitter? These and more amazing stats from the week of June 3-9.
13 Hits for Yasiel Puig in his first seven games
Not since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 has a rookie for the Dodgers taken the baseball world by storm like Puig. The rookie totaled 13 hits in just seven games, including four homers and 10 RBIs. That is the most hits for any Dodger in his first six games since 1900. Puig’s accomplishments include four home runs, two outfield assists and 10 RBIs.
.042 Starlin Castro’s June batting average
The Cubs’ shortstop began the month in a 1-for-24 slump. In seven games, he scored three runs and his only hit was a double. His OBP is a sparkling .179 due to a couple of HBPs, but he’s slugging just .083.
1 Extra-inning win for St. Louis in 2013
The Cardinals may have the best record in baseball, but when opponents take them into extra frames the Redbirds struggle. It wasn’t until this past Sunday when the Cards plated seven runs in the 10th inning at Cincinnati that the club won its first extra-inning game this season in five tries.
11 Consecutive road losses for the Indians
Just as manager Terry Francona had his troops charging into contention, the Indians have played miserably on the road. After defeating the Red Sox at Fenway on May 23, the Tribe has dropped three at Boston, two at Cincinnati, three at Yankee Stadium and three at Detroit. Cleveland was outscored 67-35 in those games.
19 Runs allowed by the Braves in their last nine games
Atlanta pitching has been especially stingy of late. The staff has allowed more than three runs just twice over the past 12 games. The Braves are 8-4 in those games.
20-8 Oakland’s record within its division
In order to win a division title, teams must play well against their rivals. The A’s ended the week with the best intradivision mark in baseball.
.542 Howie Kendrick’s batting average last week
The Angels’ second baseman now leads the club with a .317 average for the season and has more total bases then teammates Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton and more RBIs than Hamilton.
11-6 Nationals record in one-run games
Where would the Nats be without a little luck in winning tight games? Washington hitters are struggling and the pitching is keeping the team afloat, especially in close games. The Nationals are the best team in the NL in one-run games.
.184 Pirates batting average last week
The Bucs’ hitters didn’t enjoy the road trip to Atlanta and Chicago at all. Pittsburgh bats were held to a .184 average as the team lost four of six and fell farther behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.
3 Most runs allowed in a game in June by Kansas City
The Royals began the month on a 6-2 tear led by a stingy pitching staff. No opponent has managed more than three runs in any game in June as the Royals have outscored foes 29-15 through the first eight games of the month.
3-10 White Sox record since Memorial Day weekend
Over the holiday weekend, the White Sox swept the Marlins and celebrated reaching the .500 mark for the first time since April 10 when the team was 4-4. Since then, the team has slumped and lost 10 of 13 and sunk to the bottom of the AL Central.
2 Number of batters Adam Wainwright has faced with the bases loaded
In 96 innings, Wainwright has faced just two hitters in a bases-loaded jam. He retired them both.
0 RBIs for Andre Ethier since May 20
The Dodgers’ right fielder last drove in a run on May 20 and is batting .150 with three extra-base hits since then.
1 Day spent above .500 by the Phillies
Last Thursday, the Phillies defeated the Brewers 5-1 to extend their winning streak to five games and push their record above .500 at 31-30. The excitement didn’t last long as the Phils dropped three in a row to the Brew Crew over the weekend.
8 Stolen bases by Everth Cabrera last week
The speedy shortstop for San Diego hit .485 with a .514 OBP last week and stole eight bags, getting caught just once. He managed to score only three runs as the Padres lost four of seven.
.431 Paul Goldschmidt’s average with runners in scoring position
The Diamondbacks’ first baseman, who leads the National League with 58 RBIs, is batting just .283 without ducks on the pond.
.199 Red Sox and Orioles combined batting average vs. each other this season
The two AL East rivals will meet for an important four-game series this weekend. They’ve met just once for a three-game set in early April in Boston this season. During that series the pitchers ruled the day. The two teams combined to hit .199.
6 Pitches into the career of Curtis Partch when he gave up a grand slam
It took seven seasons, 210 games and 702.1 innings in the minor leagues before Curtis Partch reached the major leagues with Cincinnati. The right-handed reliever made his major league debut on Sunday against St. Louis. But in all of his wisdom, Reds manager Dusty Baker decided that facing Matt Holliday in the 10th inning with the bases loaded and one out would be an appropriate spot for Partch to get his feet wet.
-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)
Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (St. Louis Cardinals) and worst (Miami Marlins) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.
1. Cardinals Plated seven 10th-inning runs Sunday for first extra-inning win.
2. Red Sox Only four games left in June vs. losing teams.
3. Braves Given up 19 runs over their last nine games.
4. Rangers Nelson Cruz is batting. 367 with RISP and two outs.
5. A’s At 20-8, A’s have majors’ best intradivision record.
6. Reds Should spruce up record vs. Cubs and Brewers this week.
7. Pirates Bucs batted just .184 last week.
8. Yankees Still don’t seem to be missing any superstars.
9. Diamondbacks Patrick Corbin: 9-0, 1.98; rest of rotation: 13-21, 4.91.
10. Tigers Swept Cleveland to build their biggest lead of the season.
11. Orioles Important four-game series with Red Sox this weekend.
12. Rays Have won nine of 10 against NL foes.
13. Rockies Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are best 1-2 punch in NL.
14. Giants Buster Posey leads National Leaguers in All-Star votes.
15. Nationals 11-6 record is best NL mark for one-run games.
16. Phillies Spent one day over .500 this season — last Thursday.
17. Padres Everth Cabrera stole eight bases last week.
18. Indians Lost 11 straight (and counting) road games.
19. Angels Howie Kendrick hit .542 for the week.
20. Royals Opponents yet to score more than three runs in a game in June.
21. White Sox 3-10 since reaching .500 on Memorial Day weekend.
22. Twins Bullpen owns 1.14 WHIP and 2.93 ERA.
23. Mariners Jesus Montero batting .250, playing first base since demotion.
24. Dodgers Andre Ethier’s last RBI came on May 20.
25. Blue Jays Jose Reyes’ return on the horizon.
26. Brewers Where would this team be without the late signing of Kyle Lohse?
27. Cubs Starlin Castro mired in a 1-for-24 slump.
28. Mets Taken seven of eight vs. AL teams.
29. Astros Lucas Harrell looks like a real ace.
30. Marlins Play six of next nine vs. division leaders.
AL Player of the Week
Brett Gardner, New York
The fleet outfielder had the best week of his season with 13 hits last week. The Yankees won six of seven and Gardner batted .520 with a home run, five runs and six extra-base hits. He capped the week with three hits on Saturday and four on Sunday.
AL Pitcher of the Week
David Phelps, New York
The righthander was inserted into the starting rotation in May, and the Yanks have won six of his eight starts, including two last week. Phelps tossed six shutout innings against Cleveland, then allowed only one run over six frames in a 2-1 win at Seattle.
NL Player of the Week
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
Not since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 has a rookie for the Dodgers taken the baseball world by storm like Puig. The rookie totaled 13 hits in just seven games, including four homers and 10 RBIs.
NL Pitcher of the Week
Kris Medlen, Atlanta
The Braves and their fans carried high expectations of Medlen into this season after his terrific showing in 2012. In starts against Pittsburgh and the Dodgers last week, Medlen gave up just one run — which was unearned — over 13.2 innings to earn two wins. He also socked the first home run of his career.
Dom Brown finally goes off for the Phillies, Nationals can’t support their pitchers and the Tigers and Pirates struggled for runs. Another installment of some amazing numbers from MLB for the week of May 27-June 2.
7 Home Runs by Domonic Brown last week
The long-time, seemingly underachieving, prospect of the Phillies finally had a breakout month. After a .233-3-11 April with a .681 OPS, Brown responded to hit .319-13-29 with a 1.055 OPS over his next 30 games. Could the Phillies finally have the next anchor of their lineup?
17-13 Nationals record when they allow 1, 2 or 3 runs
The pitchers in Washington are getting the job done, it’s just that the team has a little trouble giving them any runs to work with. They are 7-1 when allowing just one run. But that drops to 7-6 when giving up two, and only 3-6 when allowing three runs. Put in layman’s terms, the Nats could maintain a 2.00 ERA and win about 92 games at this rate.
5 Pitchers who made six starts in May with a sub-2.00 ERA
Lefties Cliff Lee of Philadelphia, Jeff Locke of Pittsburgh, Mike Minor of Atlanta and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers joined righty Stephen Strasburg of Washington to comprise the quintet of hurlers with six starts and an ERA below 2.00 in May. The aggregate record of the group is 14-3 with 13 no-decisions in their 30 starts in May.
11-5 Phillies record vs. Mets and Marlins
With a three-game set against Miami this week, the Phillies have an opportunity to improve that mark. They are 16-25 against everyone else, including 2-4 vs. the Braves and Nationals, their other two NL East rivals.
5 Straight wins for the Astros
Houston finished the week with a five-game winning steak, including a sweep of the Angels in Los Angeles, but remains four games behind next-to-last in the AL.
14 Hits for Chris Davis last week
Lest you believe that Davis’s start this season is somewhat of a fluke, his bat has yet to cool off for the Orioles. He produced 14 hits last week, including four that left the park, and scored a majors-best 10 runs in leading Baltimore to a 5-2 mark for the week.
0-4 Record in May for James Shields
The Kansas City Royals’ righthander was winless in May despite a 1.08 WHIP and 2.92 ERA in his five starts.
3-1 Record in May for Jason Hammel
The Baltimore Orioles’ righthander won three games in May despite a 1.70 WHIP and 6.44 ERA in his five starts.
3 Singles by the Pirates to start an inning but didn’t score
On May 30, the Pirates touched Detroit pitcher Doug Fister for three singles without plating a run in the bottom of the fourth. Neil Walker singled, then was caught stealing. Andrew McCutchen and Garret Jones followed with base knocks before Russell Martin whiffed and Travis Snider flied out to left. No big deal, but…
4 Singles to start the fifth by the Tigers without scoring
The next inning, the Tigers did the Bucs one better. After the speed-challenged Matt Tuiasosopo and Bryan Pena opened with singles, Avisail Garcia lined a single to right and Travis Snider gunned out Tuiasosopo at the plate while holding Pena on second. Pitcher Doug Fister singled, but Pena was held at third. Two ground balls later, and Pittsburgh hurler Jeff Locke was safely out of the inning. Oh, the Pirates won 1-0 in 11 innings.
0 Shutouts by the Brewers this season
The Milwaukee Brewers’ lineup is formidable, but the pitching staff? Well, it’s pretty bad. The Brew Crew is the only staff in baseball without a shutout this season.
5 Walk-off losses this season for the Brewers and Marlins
Milwaukee and Miami lead the majors in being walked-off.
19 Home runs in 169 at-bats for David Ortiz when playing first base since 2005
While the debate over the DH rages, Ortiz continues to produce whether DHing in American League parks or manning first base in NL parks.
8 First inning run support for St. Louis pitchers’ debuts
Three youngsters made their major league debuts in the St. Louis rotation in May, and the Cardinals’ offense staked each to a lead after the first inning. The offense produced three first-inning runs for John Gast against the Mets on May 14. Tyler Lyons was also given a three spot against San Diego on May 22. Then Michael Wacha, the most heralded prospect of the three, was given a pair of runs against the Royals on May 30.
.409-6-21 Average, home runs and RBIs for Wil Myers in last 10 games at Triple-A Durham
The Rays would love to avoid Myers earning Super 2 status with extra service this season, but it’s time to give the prospect a call. Over his last 10 games at Triple-A Durham, he’s batting .409 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.
.433 OBP for Matt Carpenter since being moved to the leadoff
St. Louis manager moved Carpenter to the leadoff spot permanently on May 2 and the former TCU standout is batting .339 with 21 runs in 27 games. He has started at second, third, first and right field during that stretch, and St. Louis is 19-8.
-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)
Only hard-core baseball junkies are familiar with these names now, but in a few years all baseball fans will recognize these stars. Here’s a brief look at stars of the future who have yet to make their debuts in the major leagues.
Taijuan Walker, Seattle
With above-average fastball, curve and change, Walker is clearly a future starter, but he must harness control issues. Through 10 starts at Double-A Jackson, opponents are batting just .190, but he has issued 27 walks in 59 innings.
Zack Wheeler, New York Mets
Acquired from the Giants for Carlos Beltran, the righthander possesses a fastball that nears triple digits. Fine-tuning his command and breaking pitches will get him to the majors, and that isn’t far away. In nine starts and 48.1 innings at Triple-A Las Vegas, he has 49 whiffs and allowed only 45 hits.
Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh (pictured)
Last season, his first in pro ball, he progressed from High-A to Triple-A where he made one start. In 10 starts at Triple-A this season, opponents are hitting just .207. Cole owns a major-league ready fastball and curve. He’ll be in Pittsburgh by August.
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh
Pitching at Double-A this season, Taillon’s fastball will reach the upper 90s. He has 63 punchouts in 55.2 innings this season with a 2.19 ERA. As soon as he develops other pitches, he’ll join the
Pirates’ rotation, which should be in 2014.
Danny Hultzen, Seattle
The second-best left-handed prospect shined in his first four starts at Triple-A but hasn’t pitched since mid-April due to a rotator cuff problem. Red flag.
Archie Bradley, Arizona
After five tremendous starts at Single-A, Bradley has been even better at Double-A this season with a 0.69 ERA in five outings. He turns 21 in August and is on a fast track to the big leagues, although the Diamondbacks are adamant about not rushing him.
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay
With a fastball that reaches 98 and a tight slider, Archer could end up in the bullpen. Tampa Bay is his third organization and he’ll be 25 before the season ends.
Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
Obtained in the R.A. Dickey trade over the winter, Syndergaard hasn’t disappointed the Mets. In nine starts at High-A Port St. Lucie, the 6'6" righthander has 52 strikeouts in 50.2 innings and has given up just one home run.
Jonathan Singleton, Houston
Long considered a top prospect in Philadelphia, Singleton is currently serving a suspension for a drug violation. He’s probably better suited for DH.
Keon Barnum, Chicago White Sox
The strong 20-year-old has prodigious power. The question will be whether he can develop consistency at the plate.
Kolten Wong, St. Louis
Nothing about Wong will wow you except that he is a ballplayer. Speed, bat and glove are all just a tad above average, but his instincts, will and work ethic should land him a job in the majors and keep him there a long time.
Delino DeShields, Jr., Houston
Speed is his greatest asset, and the son of the former major leaguer has solid makeup and athleticism. He projects as a sturdy leadoff hitter and if his defense doesn’t cut it at second, he’ll make a solid center fielder.
Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore
Originally a shortstop, Schoop can play all over the infield. Second base seems to be where the Orioles need him most.
Nick Franklin, Seattle
Originally a shortstop, Franklin has split time at both middle infield positions this season. In 2010, he had 23 homers and 25 steals at Single-A Clinton.
Miguel Sano, Minnesota
Sano turned 20 a few weeks ago and is tearing up the Florida State League with a .354 average and 23 extra-base hits including 11 homers in his first 40 games.
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland (pictured)
A few years ago, Lindor was the youngest player in the Futures Game. He’s considered the best defensive shortstop in the minors, and is batting .331 at Single-A.
Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
While not as refined at the plate as Lindor, Baez has more power. It will be interesting to see who eventually moves to third base, Baez or current Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston
If Jose Iglesias ever blossoms for Boston, Bogaerts could move to third, shifting Will Middlebrooks to first.
Carlos Correa, Houston
His glove is well ahead of his bat, but his .410 OBP this season at Single-A isn’t too shabby.
Addison Russell, Oakland
He’s scuffling at .189 this season, but hit .369 across three levels in 2012.
Hak-Ju Lee, Tampa Bay
In the midst of a breakout season at the plate for Triple-A Durham, Lee suffered torn knee ligaments and will miss the remainder of the year.
Oscar Taveras, St. Louis
Without question, Taveras is the highest-prized prospect not yet called up to the big leagues. The Cardinals’ expectation is that he will be a regular in the Redbirds’ outfield next season.
Wil Myers, Tampa Bay
Outside of Jurickson Profar, Myers has received more attention than anyone in the minors this season. Only a matter of time before he’s helping Evan Longoria carry the Rays’ offense.
Christian Yelich, Miami
The 21-year-old has 20 extra-base hits, 23 runs and 23 RBIs in his first 26 games at Double-A.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota
Twins fans have been dreaming of an outfield that includes Buxton and Aaron Hicks. Buxton is still a few years away, and Hicks has appeared overmatched so far this season.
Nick Castellanos, Detroit
Originally a third baseman, he moved to the outfield this season, which is his quickest track to Detroit. Castellanos is a pure hitter with developing power.
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati
Most fans are familiar with his 155 steals last season. But in his first foray into Triple-A, he’s struggled at the plate with a .228 average and .286 OBP.
Bubba Starling, Kansas City
Drafted in 2011, Starling chose the Royals over the opportunity to play quarterback at Nebraska. He hasn’t exactly exploded onto the scene, hitting just .213 this season at Single-A.
Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are excited about the young outfielder, currently hitting .296 and slugging .528 at Single-A Daytona.
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
Signed to a seven-year, $42 million deal out of Cuba last year, Puig has raw power and gave the Dodgers a glimpse during spring training just how good he can be.
Mike Zunino, Seattle (pictured)
The third overall pick in 2012 progressed quickly up to Double-A last season hitting .333 in 15 games. Success hasn’t come as easy at Triple-A this season, but the Mariners are convinced he is their long-term solution behind the plate.
Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets
Multiple knee injuries have prevented d’Arnaud from being in the bigs already. His forte is his bat with some power. He’s worked diligently to improve his throwing. The Mets would love to see him completely healthy and in New York in 2014.
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
He won’t turn 21 until December and has serious power. He hasn’t mastered the nuances behind the plate, but he has a terrific arm. He’s currently hitting .279 at High-A Tampa.
Austin Hedges, San Diego
The Padres spent $3 million on their 2011 second-round pick believing he would be a long-term solution behind the plate. Defensively he has all the tools to be one of the best. His bat will probably never grade as high as his glove, but he has 11 walks and only 11 whiffs so far this season at High-A
Lake Elsinore, which lifts his OBP.
Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta
The Panama native’s prowess behind the plate and outstanding throwing arm may alone be enough for him to replace Brian McCann by 2015. If he improves his plate discipline, that could happen sooner.
Each week, Athlon Sports highlights the most important, intriguing and bizarre stats in baseball.
Matt Cain is giving up bombs, Ryan Howard is wilting in the clutch, James Shields has little to show for his efforts and the consistent Joey Votto just keeps hitting. Here’s this week’s Amazing Stats for May 13-19.
2 Games Braves played with best lineup
Atlanta is in first place in the NL East, but the club has played just two games — last Friday and Saturday — with what manager Fredi Gonzalez expected to be his best eight in the field. Catcher Brian McCann has been recovering from shoulder surgery, and right fielder Jason Heyward missed some time after an appendectomy. The Braves won both games.
.050 Ryan Howard’s batting average with RISP, two outs
Entering this season, Howard carried a career .268 average with runners in scoring position with two outs. So far in 2013, he’s 1-for-20.
3 Teams still perfect this season when leading after six innings
The Texas Rangers blew their first save of the season over the weekend against the Tigers, but won the game anyway to go to 23-0 when leading after six innings. The Yankees (21-0) and Cleveland (19-0) are the other two teams. Coincidence that all three reside in first place?
13 Home runs allowed by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants this season
The total leads the majors and is four more than Cain gave up in all of 2010, when he logged more than 220 innings.
22 Percent of the Dodgers’ RBIs driven in by Adrian Gonzalez
Earlier this season, Carl Crawford was responsible for an inordinate high percentage of the Dodgers’ runs. Now Gonzalez shows a similar high percentage of the team’s RBIs. It’s time for Matt Kemp to step up and contribute to the offense.
2 Players to hit three homers in a loss twice since 2000
Players have hit three home runs in a losing cause a total of 16 times since 2000. Two players have done it twice. Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers did it for the second time last Sunday night. Sammy Sosa did it twice in 2001.
.583 Joey Votto batting average for the week
Quietly and consistently, the Reds’ first baseman shows why he is the best hitter in the National League. He hit .583 last week with a pair of home runs, five RBIs and seven runs. He drew five walks to go with his 14 hits over the six games.
.193 Batting average of leadoff No. 1 hitters against Kansas City
Leadoff hitters haven’t fared well against the Royals’ pitching this season. This average is 32 points lower than the next best (Pittsburgh, .225). The Royals are also the only team yet to give up a home run to the first batter in the lineup.
2 First batters of any inning to score off Yu Darvish
Going into his start against the Tigers last Thursday night, Yu Darvish of Texas had not allowed the first batter of any inning to score this season. In fact, just 10 of 53 had even made it the first 90 feet. That changed in the third inning when Don Kelly of Detroit homered off of the Texas righthander. Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta led off the fourth inning with a homer as well. Now 12 of 61 have reached base safely, and just two have scored.
16 Scoreless innings for Justin Masterson last week
The Cleveland ace pitched a complete game shutout over the Yankees and followed up with seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win over Seattle. For the week, he threw 16 innings, gave up seven hits, five walks and struck out 20. The surging Indians have won eight of Masterson’s 10 starts this season, scoring a total of three runs in the two losses. Masterson is working on a scoreless innings streak of 19.1 innings.
.509 Miguel Cabrera’s batting average with runners in scoring position
With two outs and RISP, Miggy’s average jumps to .600. It’s no wonder he’s a candidate to win a second Triple Crown this season.
.077 Martin Prado’s batting average with runners in scoring position
Among batters with as many as 35 ABs this season, Prado owns the lowest average. But it’s still early and this is a relatively small sample size, so expect this number to climb. The Diamondbacks are in first place despite this deficiency.
5 Starts of 8+ innings and three or less runs for James Shields
Kansas City’s James Shields continues to get saddled with tough losses. He’s gone eight innings in his last three starts, given up a total of five runs (four earned) and is 0-2 during that time. Shields has pitched eight innings or more five times this season, giving up three runs or less each start. For his efforts, the team has rewarded him with an 0-3 record in those games.
2 St. Louis Cardinals batting .400+ with RISP
There are a scant nine hitters with as many as 35 ABs batting .400 with runners in scoring position. Matt Holliday of St. Louis ended the week at .444. Teammate Allen Craig stood at an even .400. The Cardinals are the only team with two at or above the .400 mark.
14-9 Baltimore’s road record this season
The Orioles ended the week as the only team with a winning record on the road and a losing mark at home (9-11).
15 Times since 2010 Jaime Garcia has left a game with a lead, but didn’t win
The St. Louis lefthander has had the toughest luck of any pitcher in baseball since 2010 with his bullpen holding leads. He’s left with a lead 15 times, only to see the advantage — along with his win — disappear.
.149 Opponents batting average vs. Matt Harvey
The young New York Mets’ ace has held hitters to a .149 average, the best in the majors this season.
.369 Opponents batting average vs. Vance Worley and Joe Blanton
Hitters are feasting on Worley and Blanton this season.
-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)