Jayson Stark

Pitching Probables
Power Alley
All-Time Stats
Message Board
Minor Leagues
MLB en espanol

Jim Caple
Peter Gammons
Joe Morgan
Rob Neyer
John Sickels
Jayson Stark
ESPN Auctions
Tuesday, July 16
Updated: July 17, 2:48 PM ET
Useless information department

By Jayson Stark

  • More than six decades have now rolled by since Ted Williams hit .400. Not only has no one hit .400 since then, just a handful of guys have even made a run at it. So in honor of Ted, here are the only six men in the last 25 years who were even batting .400 in July -- or beyond (listed in order of latest date with an average above .400):

    George Brett, 1980 (Sept. 4)
    Todd Helton, 2000 (Aug. 21)*
    John Olerud, 1993 (Aug. 2)
    Larry Walker, 1997 (July 18)
    Tony Gwynn, 1997 (July 14)
    Rod Carew, 1977 (July 10)
    (* nosed above .400 in mid-game Aug. 21, last day ended at .400 was June 10.)

  • We finally figured out why Bud Selig was so inclined to call this All-Star Game after the managers urged him to: He'd been watching the Brewers all year.

    Here are the teams that wish all games could be called a tie once they got past nine innings (i.e., the worst records in extra-inning games):

    Rangers 1-8
    Brewers 2-8
    Padres 2-6
    Marlins 3-8
    Mets 3-6

  • They said it couldn't be done, but Vladimir Guerrero drew four unintentional walks in one game Sunday against the Braves. In the previous 821 games of his career, he'd only had one game in which he even drew three unintentional walks -- June 16, 1999, in St. Louis.

  • Ramon Ortiz pulled into the All-Star break with 26 gopherballs. Since Bert Blyleven's historic 50-gopherball season, Ortiz was just the fourth pitcher to give up 26 or more homers at the break -- and only the 12th pitcher in history to do it. The others, courtesy of the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent:

    Pitcher Year HR at break HR for year
    Bert Blyleven 1986 30 50
    Bert Blyleven 1987 30 46
    Jose Lima 2000 29 48
    Phil Niekro 1970 29 40
    Fergie Jenkins 1973 29 35
    Jeff Fassero 1999 28 34
    Pedro Ramos 1957 27 43
    Catfish Hunter 1973 27 39
    Fergie Jenkins 1975 26 37
    Luis Tiant 1969 26 37
    Jim Deshaies 1994 26 30

  • Ah, but here's what separates Ramon Ortiz from all those other guys: When he doesn't give up a home run, he's almost unhittable (his nine-run implosion Sunday against the Royals notwithstanding). The average of opposing hitters against him is still only .215, third in the league behind only Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez.

    Which means Ortiz has a shot at a very bizarre record -- lowest batting average allowed by a pitcher who served up at least 40 homers in a season. Here's the top three in that esoteric department:

    Pitcher Year HR Avg.
    Denny McLain 1966 42 .214
    Jack Morris 1986 40 .229
    Ralph Terry 1962 40 .231

    By the way, in at-bats in which Ortiz doesn't allow a home run, hitters are batting .166 against him.

  • Your average starting pitcher these days is only as good as his bullpen. Or at least his record is only as good as his bullpen. So we now present the seven starters whose bullpens have blown at least four of their wins so far -- and what their record would be if their relief crew had actually ridden to the rescue:

    Pitcher Wins blown Record would be
    Rick Reed 5 11-5
    Dave Burba 5 9-4
    Ismael Valdes 5 10-6
    Brandon Duckworth 4 9-6
    James Baldwin 4 10-6
    Brandon Lyon 4 5-3
    Shawn Sedlacek 4* 5-0
    (* in 5 starts)

  • On the other hand, there's another side to this story -- the starters whose offenses have gotten them off the hook for a loss the most. The leaders in that category are Shawn Estes, whose Mets buddies have saved him from seven losses already (and a 3-14 record); Elmer Dessens, who has been rescued five times (and otherwise would be 4-10), and Terry Adams, who also has been saved from five losses (and a 4-11 record).

  • Paul Byrd could ruin a heck of a note if the Royals trade him. He still owns half of the wins by his team's entire starting rotation (12 of 24). And according to the Elias Sports Bureau's Kevin Hines, only one pitcher in history has ever won as many games as (or more than) the rest of the rotation combined. That, of course, was Steve Carlton, who went 27-10 for the 1972 Phillies -- in a year when all other Phillies starters went 19-68.

  • The Mariners may not be on the road to 116 wins again. But you can't blame their pitching. When Joel Pineiro and the bullpen had finished beating Tampa Bay, 4-0, last Thursday, it meant that nine of the Mariners' last 20 wins were shutouts.

    You sure don't see that every year. Last staff to do that, according to Elias: (surprise) the 1992 Braves, who actually threw 10 shutouts out of 20 wins between June 20 and July 25 (and also did it June 21-July 29).

  • Speaking of shutouts, the A's came roaring out of the All-Star break with three straight games in which their starting pitchers (Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, then Barry Zito) gave up a total of no runs. In the previous 12 seasons, according to Elias, only one other rotation did that in the three games following the break:

    Houston Astros: July 10-12, 1997 (Darryl Kile, Mike Hampton, Chris Holt)

  • We hope Bob Brenly appreciates how different the start of his managerial career was from almost everybody's around him. He managed his 250th game last week -- and of all active managers, only Lou Piniella's first 250 games matched up to Brenly's. The best 250-game starts by all active managers, according to Elias:

    144-106 Bob Brenly (2001-02)
    144-106 Lou Piniella (1986-87)
    141-109 Dusty Baker (1993-94)
    140-110 Jim Tracy (2001-020
    138-112 Jimy Williams (1986-87)

  • Sooner or later, somebody is going to strike out 200 times in a season. And it might as well be Jose Hernandez. His 109 whiffs at the break made him the fourth player in the last 10 years to punch out 100 times or more by the All-Star break. His predecessors, of course, dodged that 200-strikeout club. But here's where Hernandez stood at the break, compared with the other three, courtesy of Elias:

    2002 Jose Hernandez, Mil. 109
    2001 Richie Sexson, Mil. 102 (final total: 178)
    2000 Preston Wilson, Fla. 117 (final total: 187)
    1997 Melvin Nieves, Det. 100 (final total: 157)

  • Barry Bonds thumped his 500th double the other day, which made him the seventh member of the 500-500 Club (homers and doubles). The other members of that esteemed group:

    Hitter HR 2B
    Hank Aaron 755 624
    Babe Ruth 714 506
    Willie Mays 660 523
    Frank Robinson 586 528
    Ted Williams 521 525
    Eddie Murray 504 560

    Who are the only other two active players in the 400-400 Club? Rafael Palmeiro (508 doubles, 468 homers) and Fred McGriff (466 homers, 412 doubles).

  • Mike Hampton may not be pitching too hot, but at least he's having his best offensive season. At last look, he was hitting .342. And since the DH era, only one pitcher who got 50 at-bats in a season had a higher average than that -- Orel Hershiser (.356) in 1993.

  • Actual result from a July 3 Pacific Coast League game:

    Memphis 8, Iowa 5
    Winning pitcher: Andy Benes
    Losing pitcher: Alan Benes

    Footnote: Andy went 0 for against Alan, but Alan doubled off Andy.

  • Has any pitcher had a more bizarre year than Tampa Bay's Tanyon Sturtze? As if the second-longest winless streak ever by an Opening Day starter (15 starts) wasn't enough, Sturtze now has pitched nine innings in four different games since June 8 -- and none of them was a complete game (because the game went extra innings).

    Sturtze is the first starter to pitch at least four "incomplete games" of nine innings or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, since John Tudor pitched five games like that back in 1986.

    Meanwhile, Sturtze's only official complete game of the year also has come in this stretch. But he only pitched eight innings in that one, because it was a 3-1 loss in Texas, and the home team didn't have to hit in the ninth.

  • Think Tom Glavine is bothered by that blister at all? Glavine went eight years, from 1994 until June 26, without giving up back-to-back home runs. Saturday, he just did it again -- for the second time in four starts (and only 17 innings).

    Glavine also gave up three homers in an inning for the first time in his career Saturday. His ERA going into this month was 1.75. Since July 1, it's 11.57.

  • Our bobblehead czar, David Hallstrom, reports this historic bobblehead development this weekend: Roberto Alomar just became the first player ever to have bobblehead days with two different big-league teams. He went 1 for 4, with a double and two RBI, this year as a Mets bobblehead. He went 2 for 4 last year, as an Indians bobblehead.

  • And in other bobblehead news, we regret to report that when Orioles bobblehead Sidney Ponson allowed a run to the Mariners on Monday, he ended a 17 2/3-inning scoreless streak by bobblehead pitchers on their very special day. The streak began last Aug. 3, with seven shutout innings by Randy Johnson, then was extended to 16 by Jeff Weaver and John Smoltz, going into Ponson's start. Now that's some serious bobblehead power.

  • We also have a midseason bulletin from our marathon man, Allan Wood, who has been keeping track of the longest at-bats of the first half.

    There were two 14-pitch at-bats before the break -- by Nomar Garciaparra, against David Wells, on May 25, and by Tony Graffanino, against Robert Person, on June 20. And after all of that battling, both hitters made an out.

    But there have been 10 at-bats of 13 pitches this year. And check out the numbers of the hitters who hung in there for those at-bats:

    6 for 7, with three walks, for an .867 batting average and a .900 on-base percentage. Go figure.

  • Let's not be too quick to jump on the Indians for trading Bartolo Colon after "prematurely" deciding they weren't contenders. All you need to do is peruse the AL Central standings since April 15 (when the Indians were 11-1):

    Twins 45-35
    White Sox 37-44
    Tigers 34-45
    Royals 31-48
    Indians 30-48

  • Booth Newspapers' Danny Knobler reports that the Tigers have had one player ejected from a game all season. And that was a guy who was on the disabled list at the time (Bobby Higginson). He grumbled about a reversed call by Randy Marsh on a ground-rule double in a July 4 game against the White Sox -- and got the thumb.

  • Here's an all-time Randy Johnson first that may have slipped by you: The Unit just gave up home runs to left-handed hitters in two straight starts for the first time in his career. Shawn Green got him Thursday, five days after Barry Bonds hit his first homer ever off his Unitness.

  • Joel Skinner may be just an interim manager, but he and his father, Bob, have become just the second father-son manager combo. (Bob Skinner managed the Phillies in 1968-69 and also was an interim manager for the Padres in 1977.) The original father-son managerial twosome: George Sisler (managed the Browns in 1924-25-26) and Dick Sisler (managed the Reds in 1964-65).

  • In Farm Land, Twins prospect Josh Rabe failed to reach base Saturday for the first time in over two months. Rabe had reached safely on a hit or a walk in 67 straight games. The minor-league historians at SportsTicker report that that left him five games short of a 72-game streak compiled by Kevin Millar for three different Triple-A teams from 1997-99.

    And since we're remembering Ted Williams this week, we should note that Williams had three streaks in his careeer in which he reached base in at least 65 games in a row, according to SABR's Herm Krabbenhoft -- 84 straight in 1949, 69 straight in 1941 and 65 in a row in 1948.

  • Finally, we know this is a note that only certain authors of this column are interested in. But just two months after the first home run in history by a Stark (Dennis), we've now also seen the first win in history by a pitcher named Jayson (Durocher). He was the winner in relief in the Brewers' 5-4 win over the Reds on July 4.

    The next big attraction we're following is (what else?) this weekend's first-ever series featuring both a Jayson (Durocher) and a Stark (Dennis), when the Brewers and Rockies meet in Colorado.

    The Sultan's Corner

  • On Sunday, Jose Hernandez became the 29th player in history to have a multihomer game on his birthday -- but just the sixth active player to do it. Here are the others, courtesy of the Sultan of Swat Stats, David Vincent:

    Richard Hidalgo 7/2/2000 2
    Chipper Jones 4/24/2001 2
    Barry Larkin 4/28/1994 2
    Troy O'Leary 8/4/2001 2
    Tim Raines 9/16/1996 2
    Jose Hernandez 7/14/2002 2

    Hernandez can now shoot to become the third player ever to sing that particular birthday song twice. The only men to do that: Kirk Gibson and Duke Snider (both in consecutive seasons).

  • Well, a Giambi made history in the first half of this season -- but it wasn't Jason. According to the Sultan, his brother Jeremy became the first player ever to hit eight home runs in each league before the All-Star break. In fact, only two other guys in history even hit five or more in each league before the break:

    Batter Year AL NL
    Tony Batista 1999 10 5
    Doug Rader 1977 9 5
    Jeremy Giambi 2002 8 8

  • Raul Ibanez did something Sunday very few men have done -- hit a grand slam and a three-run homer off the same pitcher (Ramon Ortiz) in back-to-back innings. The Sultan reports that these are the only other men to do that:

    (Innings are for grand slam, then three-run home run)
    Jimmy Bannon, Braves, Aug. 7, 1894, off Kid Carsey, Phi. 5th, 4th
    Gary Carter, Mets, July 11, 1986, off David Palmer, Atl. 2nd, 1st
    Bill Dickey, Yankees, July 1, 1938, off Harry Kelley, Wash., 5th, 4th
    Jim Gentile, Orioles, June 20, 1960, off Dick Hall, K.C., 7th, 6th
    Tony Piet, Pirates, July 28, 1932, off Hi Bell, N.Y., 3rd, 2nd

    (Also, Ed Cartwright hit a slam and three-run homer off Ed Green in the same inning, on Sept. 23, 1890. But who could ever forget that?)

  • Finally, that walkoff slam by Bill Selby on Sunday off Mariano Rivera was that rarity of rarities -- a walkoff slam against the Yankees. According to the Sultan, it was only the seventh in history. The others:

    June 21, 1988: Alan Trammell off Cecilio Guante
    July 7, 1970: Brooks Robinson off Lindy McDaniel
    July 11, 1959: Don Buddin off Bob Turley
    July 26, 1952: Bud Souchock off Bobby Hogue
    June 15, 1946: Vern Stephens off Johnny Murphy
    May 31, 1944: Al Unser off Monk Dubiel

    From Jayson's midseason awards in which he stated that if Curt Schilling maintains his current strikeout to walk rate (14.31 K per BB), only two pitchers in history (Pedro Martinez and Cy Young) will ever have had seasons with ratios half that good.

    There are, in fact, two other pitchers who had ratios half that good: Bret Saberhagen, in 1994, had 11.00 strikeouts for every walk. Greg Maddux did so three times in his career: 1994, when his ratio was 8.04; 1997 when it was 10.00; and 2001 when it was 8.15.

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

  •  More from ESPN...
    Stark: When it was a game
    Remember when pitchers went ...
    Jayson Stark home page
    Jayson is back with all kinds ...

    Jayson Stark Archive

     ESPN Tools
    Email story
    Most sent
    Print story