Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tie Goes To The Runner... or the 1916 Giants 9/14/17

Hey baseball fans!

The Cleveland Indians have set a new American League record with 21 straight games with a victory! It's an insane streak, but it actually isn't the best of its kind. Let's talk about the team with the most consecutive games without a loss: the 1916 Giants. And yes, the phrasing is different for a reason.

Entering a game against the Brooklyn Robins (present-day Dodgers) on September 7, the 1916 Giants had a win-loss record of 60-62-2. Yes, back in the day, there were ties if games had to be called due to darkness or precipitation. The Giants ended up winning that game on the 7th by a final score of 4-1. Then, they won their next three games against the Phillies, their next four against the Reds, and their next three against the Pirates. So, they've won eleven straight so far, which is not half bad at all in the slightest. However, in their next game, which was against the Pirates, they tied by a final score of 1-1. So the Giants have gone 12 straight games without a loss, but their winning streak is over.

But that didn't stop them from winning 14 of their next FOURTEEN GAMES! That means that the 1916 Giants went 26 games, almost a whole month, without suffering a loss. How crazy is that? Sure, the streak did stop at 26 straight games without a loss after an 8-3 loss to the Braves, but a quasi-winning streak like that has never been done in baseball history before or since. Three other teams have streaks of 20 or more games without a loss in baseball history, but none of those streaks surpass 21 games. The 1916 Giants ended up improving their total season wins from September 7th by 26 at season's end.


Will the 2017 Indians surpass the 1916 Giants for most consecutive games in baseball history without a loss? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My Catching College BUddy 9/5/17

Hey baseball fans!

I start my classes at Boston University today and there is a member of the Hall of Fame who also attended BU. The only thing is, he went to college almost a century ago: Mickey Cochrane!

Cochrane played for the then-Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers from 1924-1937 and quickly in his career became one of the premier catchers of his era in Major League Baseball. Although he didn't have that long a career, his biggest claim to fame is his career batting average, which was a miraculous .320. Yes, there have been plenty of hitters with higher lifetime batting averages, but none of them are catchers. So essentially, the best hitting catcher in baseball history shares an alma mater with me, so that's cool. Nicknamed "Black Mike" for his "fierce, competitive spirit" according to the Hall of Fame's website, Cochrane batted over his lifetime batting average in seven seasons and batted over .300 in two more seasons. The two-time MVP has a ton of seasons that can be argued were his best, but in only one season did he lead the league in on-base percentage. That year was 1933 and his OBP was an astounding .459, but his highest single-season batting average was a "measly" .357, which he accomplished in 1930.

Cochrane's fiery attitude helped lead his teams to five pennants and three World Series championships. With the A's, he went to the Fall Classic from 1929-1931 and with the Tigers in 1934 and 1935. His batting average during his World Series appearances dropped significantly compared to his career average, but he made up for that while in Detroit when he was the team's player-manager. In fact, Cochrane was such a good manager that even Hall of Fame Hank Greenberg called him "inspirational." That's high praise coming from one of the game's best sluggers.


The legendary catcher's career came to an abrupt end on May 25, 1937, when he was struck in the head by a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Bump Hadley. It is that injury that sparked conversation about making wearing a helmet while batting mandatory. However, despite retiring at the age of 34, Cochrane was still rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947 with 79.5% of the vote. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

ML"what would"B: What if David Freese Failed the Cards in the 2011 World Series? Part 2 8/26/17

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for Part 2 of my ML"what would"B about what if David Freese hadn't come up in the clutch in Game Six of the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals. We last saw the Albert Pujols-led Cardinals beat the Josh Hamilton-led Texas Rangers in the 2013 World Series, while Prince Fielder and his Los Angeles Angels watched from their couches. But what happens to the Halos and the plump first baseman in the coming years?

Remember in real life how Fielder was traded for Ian Kinsler of the Rangers in a surprise move right after the 2013 season? Well in the continuation of this alternate timeline, because Fielder isn't on the Tigers, that trade never happens. Instead, Kinsler and Josh Hamilton get shipped off to the Motor City for Chris Davis, who was acquired by the Tigers just a year prior from the Orioles. The Rangers already had a terrible 2014 season in real life, but it gets a lot worse for them as Davis underperforms.  The Angels, on the other hand, soar to a better record than anyone could've expected. Fielder still gets injured for most of the season, but the re-signing of Zack Greinke turns out to be a beautiful move, as he wins 20 games and finishes in the top for AL Cy Young Award voting. Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker flourish as well and LA ends up with the best pitching staff in baseball. Couple that with Mike Trout's first AL MVP and the emergence of C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun and the Angels go 103-59 in 2014.


Meanwhile, the Orioles still win the AL East with 96 games, but the Royals sneak away with the AL Central, as V-Mart can no longer provide the pop the Tigers' lineup needed in the DH position, considering he now plays for the AL East-champion Orioles. Nonetheless, the Tigers get the second Wild Card spot while the A's keep the first spot. In the NL, the Nationals still win the NL East on the back of their pitching staff. The Giants win the NL West with 92 wins over the Dodgers, who finished with 91 wins and the first NL Wild Card spot because Zack Greinke is still with the Angels and Clayton Kershaw can't carry the entire starting pitching staff. The Cardinals win the Central at 95 wins with Pujols still in the lineup and the Pirates finish with the second Wild Card spot at 88 wins. The Giants end up making the World Series like in real life, but instead meet the Angels in the Fall Classic, whose pitching carries them to the AL pennant, despite Mike Trout's struggles. The even-numbered year dynasty for the Giants runs out of steam, as the Los Angeles Angels win the 2002 World Series rematch, as Greinke, not Madison Bumgarner, wins World Series MVP.

The 2014 MLB offseason remains the same, but the 2015 season has a lot of shake-ups in just one division: the AL West. Chris Davis's numbers pick up again, so the Rangers win 93 games and the AL West title. The Angels win 91 games on the back of a great bounce-back season from Fielder and a second consecutive great season for the pitching staff. The Astros lose an extra three games and the second AL Wild Card spot, which is now occupied by the Yankees, while the Blue Jays and Royals still win their respective divisions. The only massive change in the NL standings comes for the Cardinals. Mark Reynolds's 13 home runs are replaced with Pujols's 40, which boosts the Cardinals win total from 100 to 105, giving them more momentum come playoff time. The Cardinals end up winning the NL pennant after taking care of the Cubs and Mets in the playoffs on the strength of Pujols and meet the Blue Jays in the World Series. Wait, how the Blue Jays? Well the Angels win the Wild Card game versus the Yankees and are actually able to put the Royals away in the division series, unlike the Astros in real life. But they are just no match for the fearsome lineup the Blue Jays possess, who fly to their first Fall Classic in almost a quarter of a century. So who wins the Battle of the Birds? Who cares? At least they both got to the World Series, here in the ML"what would"B.


Who do you think would win this version of the 2015 World Series? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ML"what would"B: What if David Freese Failed the Cards in the 2011 World Series? Part 1 8/16/17

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for another ML"what would"B, where I analyze a "what-if" scenario in baseball history, like what if the Yankees had won the 2004 ALCS. In this installment, let's see what would have happened if David Freese hadn't come up clutch for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Six of the 2011 World Series. To refresh, the Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the franchise's first World Series in 2011, when they were up by two in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Then, David Freese hit a two-RBI triple that was just barely out of the reach of Nelson Cruz in right field to tie the game and would go on to hit a walk-off home run a few innings later to send the series to a final game, a game the Cardinals won. But what would've happened if Cruz made the catch in right to secure a ring for the team from the Lone Star State?

Well, the butterfly effect would be felt just a few short months later during free agency. You see, coming off a World Series loss and with only one career World Series ring, there's no way Albert Pujols would've left St. Louis to take the massive ten-year contract with the Angels. It would be a disservice to Cardinals fans everywhere. So, instead, he re-signs with the Missouri team on a cheaper and shorter deal with the thought of avenging the team's Fall Classic defeat. That leaves the Angels without a first baseman, but Prince Fielder is still a free agent. So, LA uses the money they would've used on Pujols to instead sign the plump former slugger of the Milwaukee Brewers to a nine-year, $214 million deal. Without the help from Fielder, the 2012 AL real-life pennant-winning Detroit Tigers dip, as Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera can't carry the whole team to glory. So the White Sox finish tied with Detroit in the AL Central at 86 wins and beat them in the one-game playoff, as Chris Sale out-duels Justin Verlander. Meanwhile, the Cardinals turn into a juggernaut, fueled by the re-signing of one of the greatest hitters in franchise history. They win 95 games in 2012, good enough to edge out the Reds by a game for the NL Central crown, meaning Cincinnati gets the second NL Wild Card spot. The win-loss records for the rest of the teams remain virtually the same.


In the 2012 playoffs, the Rangers lose to Baltimore in the AL Wild Card Game, while the Braves edge out the Reds because in this scenario, there is no bad infield fly rule call that messes up Atlanta's chances at advancing in the playoffs. In the divisional round, the Yankees take care of the Orioles and the A's crush the White Sox in the AL, while in the NL, the Nationals actually win a playoff series by taking their series against the Braves in five games and the Cardinals beat the Giants. In the championship series, the Yankees take down Oakland and the Cardinals actually fall to Washington. Remember: the St. Louis bats went completely quiet in the actual 2012 NLCS against the Giants. So, the 2012 World Series is set: Yankees vs. Nationals. Aaaaaaand, the Nationals sweep the Yankees! Slumping bats in the Bronx couldn't stop the upstart Nationals, who win the franchise's first World Series!

After coming up short in the AL West race in 2012, the Angels make a statement by not signing Josh Hamilton in the offseason, who instead goes back to Texas. Instead, they re-sign Zack Greike to help the pitching staff get back on track. But the biggest move comes from the Tigers, who trade DH Victor Martinez to the Orioles for young slugger and first baseman Chris Davis. With the addition of Torii Hunter as well, the 2013 Tigers manage to win the AL Central, as Davis explodes for 53 home runs and the AL MVP. Meanwhile, the Rangers win the AL West at 94 games in a tight race with Oakland, who finishes just a game back. The Nationals, coming off their historic run in the 2012 playoffs, win five more games and the second NL Wild Card spot, which pushes the Reds out of the playoffs entirely. The Cardinals make the NL look silly, cruising to the World Series to face... the Texas Rangers? Yeah, remember how Texas re-signed Josh Hamilton in the offseason? Well, he goes nuts in the playoffs, carrying the Rangers past the Tigers and Red Sox and onto the World Series for a World Series rematch. This time, the Cardinals don't squander the chance to give Pujols his second ring, using their number one offense and number five pitching staff to take down the Rangers.


But wait, what's that "Part 1" doing in the title of this post, you may ask? Well, we have to see what happens to Prince Fielder and the Angels in 2014 onward, don't we? Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ichiro, Edgar, and the 2001 Seattle Mariners 8/9/17

Hey baseball fans!

The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers just went 43-7 over a 50-game span! That hasn't been done in more than a century! The Dodgers' performance this year begs the question of whether or not they will break the record for most team wins in a single season. This record is owned by two teams, the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners. The Cubs set the record while only playing a 154-game season, so their winning percentage is a lot better than that of the '01 Mariners. With that being said, it is virtually impossible for the Dodgers this season to break the record for single-season winning percentage, but let's talk about that Mariners team for a second. 116 wins? How?

To put it simply, Ichiro Suzuki (pictured below) is how. The Japanese All Star debuted in the MLB in 2001 with Seattle and boy did he have an unbelievable rookie season. The then-27-year-old batted a league-leading .350 and also led the league in base hits with 242, over 30 hits more than the second place finisher. His insane season made him the second-ever hitter to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season (the first being Fred Lynn of the 1975 Red Sox). But it wasn't just the Asian phenom who helped the Mariners go 116-46. Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone, and John Olerud each batted over .300 on the season and they & Mike Cameron each drove in over 90 runs. Brett Boone probably had the best slugging season of the bunch, punching out 37 home runs and collecting a league-leading 141 RBIs.


The starting pitching staff wasn't half bad, either. Each pitcher who made at least 15 starts also won at least ten games. Freddy Garcia (pictured below) probably had the best season out of the starting pitchers, placing third in Cy Young voting, going 18-6 with a 3.05 ERA. 38-year-old Jamie Moyer won 20 games for the first time in his career and Paul Abbott won 17 of his own. The bullpen was backed by Japanese closer Kazuhiro Sasaki, whose 45 saves were second in all of baseball that year. All in all, the Mariners batted .288 as a team, tops in the American League, while their 3.54 team ERA was tops in baseball. Suzuki, Boone, Olerud, Martinez, Cameron, Garcia, Sasaki, and reliever Jeff Nelson were all All Stars and the Mariners' run differential that season was 300 runs, which is absolutely unprecedented.


The Seattle magic ran out eventually, however, as they ended up losing the 2001 ALCS to the Yankees. That's interesting, because the 1906 Cubs also didn't win that year's World Series either. Maybe 116 is an unlucky win total in baseball. If the Dodgers reach 116 wins on the dot, we'll find out the number's luck in October. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Preview of the 2018 Hall of Fame Vote 8/1/17

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place yesterday, which means it's time to start discussing the potential members of the 2018 HoF class. I don't want to dive too deep (I will instead save my hardcore analyzing for right before the vote), but let's look at some of the names on the ballot for next year.

The Non-Debatable Hall of Famers
Chipper Jones and Jim Thome highlight the class and both have a 99.9% chance of getting in on their first try. Jones was the face of the Braves franchise for well over a decade and has a .303 lifetime batting average, while Thome is seventh on the all time home runs list at 612 career dingers. In my mind, these guys are no-brainers.










Other Intriguing First-Timers
Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, and Omar Vizquel (pictured below) headline the remaining first-timers on the ballot and are all very up in the air. Due to the strictness of Hall of Fame voters for the last couple of years, it would be hard for these guys to get in, but I wouldn't be blown out of my chair if one or more do. Notice how there aren't any pitchers listed yet in this post. That's because the first-time pitchers' class is weaker this year than in past years.


The "Should've Gotten In Last Year" Guys
Vlad Guerrero absolutely deserved to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but we'll have to see if the voters come to their senses next January. Billy Wagner (pictured below) and Trevor Hoffman are in bad positions because if they don't get into the Hall in '18, they will have to compete for votes with Mariano Rivera in 2019, which is a battle they will both painfully lose.


How Is Edgar Martinez Not A Hall of Famer By Now?
Seriously, how? The guy has an award named after him that is awarded to the best DH in the AL every season. For Pete's sake, even the MLB knows that Martinez is the best DH of all time (sorry, Big Papi), so why can't BBWAA voters see that?


As for Sosa, Bonds, and Clemens...
We'll just have to wait and see.

It's never too early to start talking about the next generation of Cooperstown inductees, so thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Killer Nickname, Killer Bat 7/26/17

Hey baseball fans!

The Twins are (magically) in playoff contention! What an exciting time to live near the Twin Cities. In fact, one of my favorite hitters in baseball history played for the Twins. His name is Harmon Killebrew and he was purely awesome.

Ever hear of Willie McCovey? Well, think of Killebrew as his AL counterpart. The Indiana native played in the majors from 1954-1975 with the Senators/Twins and Royals, the latter for just a year. "The Killer," as he was nicknamed, actually didn't even play a full season until 1959, but boy, did he have a great year: 42 homers, 105 RBIs, and All Star Game appearance number one of eleven. Killebrew torched AL pitching throughout the years, amassing 40 homers in eight different seasons and leading the league in homers in six of those seasons. He also collected 100+ RBIs in a season nine times, three times leading the league in the category. All of these slugging milestones helped him reach the following career numbers: 573 homers (12th all time) and 1,584 RBIs (tied for 41st on the all-time list with the great Rogers Hornsby). He is one of 99 hitters in baseball history with a career slugging percentage over .500 (.509) and is 15th on the all-time walks list with 1,559. He must've been a pretty feared hitter, if he could work the count like that.

His best year in baseball was 1969, when he cracked a career-high 49 dingers, drove in a career high 140 runs, and walked an astounding 145 times, tied for the 20th most walks by a batter in a single season. His Twins went 97-65 and although they lost to the Orioles in the ALCS, Killebrew still won the MVP that year. Earlier in his career, during the '65 Fall Classic, Killebrew batted .286 (his career BA was .256) with a homer and two RBIs, but LA won the series in seven.


Despite never attaining the glory of winning a World Series, Harmon Killebrew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, his fourth year on the ballot, with 83.1% of the vote. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."