September 13, 2007

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LONGSHOTS: All round baseball week starts with a look at the stat leaders
by Dave Long

As the Yanks come to Fenway this weekend, it’s the second do-or-die series for them in 10 days where they need to take two of three to stay in the race for the AL East. Recent history tells us a sweep is not out of the question either, since New York did it to Boston just 10 days ago at the Stadium and last August with five in a row at Fenway to basically end Boston’s 2006 season. Not trying to be doom and gloom. Just trying to point out, as Yogi likes to say, it’s not over ’til it’s over.

All of which sets up another really fun weekend in these parts, where many think the baseball universe revolves around just two teams. And while I often point out that much of Red Sox Nation is missing a lot of good things going on around baseball with that view, I must say I’ve become more like that myself. So when I catch myself shifting a little too far that way, I go to the standings and the list of stat leaders in BOTH leagues to open my eyes a little as to what is happening.

So as not to get too run over by this series, I did that on Sunday and as a public service to the baseball-needy in Red Sox Nation here are some of the cool things I found lurking among the stat leaders.

You want to know what a joke the stat save is? The AL leader is the Indians’ Joe Borowski with 40. Jonathan Papelbon has 35. A closer look shows in 56.2 innings Borowski has given up 34 earned runs, 68 hits and struck 51. In contrast Papelbon has given up just 25 hits, NINE runs and struck out 79 in five less innings. In seven more innings than Pap, K-Rod has 78 Ks for second best among closers, while J. J. (what a) Putz has given up 24 fewer earned runs in seven innings more than Borowski. But if it ends today, Borowski gets Fireman of the Year because he has the most saves.

Anyone know about the spectacular year Curtis Granderson is having with Detroit? He caught my attention the other day when he got his 21st triple. That’s a lot of triples. So I looked up some numbers and discovered Carl Crawford is a distant second in the AL with nine. But also that Granderson has reached 20 in doubles (36), triples (22), home runs (20) and stolen bases (20). Only two guys in history have done that. Know who they are? The answer is at the bottom. Plus he’s hitting .301 and will probably win a gold glove.

Teammate Magglio Ordonez leads the AL in doubles with 47. David Ortiz is third with 43.

The record for triples, by the way, is 26 by Sam Crawford and Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1912 and 14 respectively. And the only player to hit more than Granderson since WWII is Dale Mitchell in 1948. You get bonus points if you know what Mitchell is most famous for in his career. The answer is below.

Anyone out there know that in addition to his sick power numbers A-Rod also has 22 steals? But he doesn’t have a triple! Not one and has only 26 for his ENTIRE 13-year career. That seems weird to me. Jim Rice had 74 triples in his first 13 years.

Ordonez and A-Rod, of course, almost came to Boston in 2004, but the Players Association said Noooo! Manny would’ve gone to Texas and Nomar to Chicago, where he wound up later that year anyway. Who knows if they’d have still won it in ’04 if the deal had happened. But if it had, here’s what Boston would have at short and left now. A-Rod — 52 homers, 140 RBI and a .316 average and for Ordonez it’s .355-26-123. Between them this year Nomar and Manny have just 26 homers and three more runs batted in than A-Rod in 2007.

Do you know with Edgar Renteria second in the NL in hitting, a Red Sox alum could win the NL batting crown for a second straight year! And if that happens, with the kind of eye-popping numbers (.329, 26 homers, 46 steals and he’ll get over 200 hits) he’s putting up I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hanley Ramirez make it three in a row in 2008. I’d like to see any team match that.

With that in mind, wonder in the poker game behind the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell’s salary to Boston if it could have been done without Ramirez going south? Image the young core with Pedroia, Ellsbury, Paplebon, Lester, Buchholz, Youkilis and Ramirez if he stayed?

Not one starter in the AL has an ERA under 3.00. Oakland’s Dan Haren led as of Sunday at 3.03. I know it makes my friend and (plug, plug) WGAM colleague Pete Tarrier crazy when I talk about things before 1993, but in 1968 Luis Tiant led the league at 1.60 and 22 starters were under 3.00. As a team the Orioles had a 3.07 ERA. If he’d pitched in ’68 Haren would have tied with the Red Sox’ Dick Ellsworth for 24th place! Amazing how things can change that much.

Here’s one for the Mother Theos of the world who fret about pitch counts, structure innings and send pitchers on a day ahead for extra rest. From 1962 to 1972 the innings leaders in the NL were all north of 300 innings. It ranged from 302 by Senator Jim Bunning in 1967 to 27-game-winner Steve Carlton’s 346 in 1972 when the Phillie won just 59. All but Sandy Koufax had careers that lasted near 20 years. The same happened in the AL from 1968 through 1977 with names like Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter, Denny McLain and Jim Palmer doing it.

Speaking of Buchholz. I said on my show before he got hammered Saturday night, forget the structured innings and start him in Dice K’s slot next turn. He looks a lot more tired to me than Buch does and a 10-day rest would refresh him for the playoffs. Yes, I’d do it Friday vs. the Yanks. But if it’s a self esteem/honor thing for him culturally — then miss the one after that.

Quiz Answers: The two other 20 times four guys were Frank Wildfire Schulte in 1911 (never heard of him) and Willie Mays in 1957. As for Dale Mitchell, he’s best known for striking out against Don Larsen in 1956 to be the final out in the only perfect game ever pitched in the World Series history.

That’s it for the other stuff. Now back to the Sox and Yanks. Enjoy.

Dave Long hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM-Nashua.


9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007

8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 M’s for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did
02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat