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.