Posted on: October 29, 2011 12:38 am

If someone had told you...

...that Albert Pujols would hit 6-for-25 (.240) with three home runs all in the same blowout win and just one other extra-base hit

...that Rafael Furcal would hit 5-for-28 (.179)

...that Matt Holliday would hit 3-for-19 (.158) with no RBI and end the series on the virtual disabled list

...and that the Cardinals would win it all anyway, would you have asked for a pinch of that person's stash?

By the way, how's that Colby Rasmus trade with the Blue Jays looking right now?

Oh, and Adam Wainwright missed the season.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:30 pm

Game Six: How close they were

Hiya kiddies --been an age, it has. Quite some postseason we're having in baseball, eh --and we might as well count regular season Game #162 as part of that (and I meant to pop in here and say what a nice thing that I thought it was, the fact that we didn't have to go to any single-game tiebreakers at the end of the regular season).

Anyway, just as it all could have ended differently on 28 September had the outcome of a single pitch been different, I had to go and take a look at the pitch-by-pitch from Game Six of the World Series and see how many times Texas pitchers threw to Cardinals batters with the possibility of the Rangers winning the World Series riding on it.

Let's walk it thru --shall we?

In the bottom of the 9th, with the Cardinals trailing 7-5 and one out, Albert Pujols doubled. Lance Berkman stepped in, and a line drive stabbed on the infield with Albert strayed off of second base could have ended it (and I was kind of concerned about Albert needlessly straying off base).

So Berkman steps in and walks on four Neftali Feliz pitches to put runners at first and second and set up a groundball double play that would have ended it.

Next up was Allen Craig, who looked at two pitches outside of the zone, then took a called strike before fouling off a pair and then striking out looking at the next pitch. So that's 10 pitches that could have ended it.

Now with two out, David Freese steps in and takes a ball and then a strike, then swings and misses before tripling to right and driving in the two runs that tied the score. So by my count, that was 14 pitches thrown in the bottom of the 9th that could have ended the World Series.

Moving on to the bottom of the 10th, with the Cardinals again trailing by a pair after Josh Hamilton had made it 9-7 to the Rangers in the vistors' half of the inning, we saw Daniel Descalso and then Jon Jay reach safely with a pair of singles off of Darren Oliver. With the two of them standing at second and first, a triple play to end the game was at least possible, but of course it would have shocked the living hell out of me and anyone else with basic baseball knowledge had it happened.

Kyle Lohse stepped in against Oliver for the purpose of bunting and did the job, moving Descalso and Jay over on the second offering that he saw from Oliver. So let's up our running tally to 16 pitches that could have ended it --hey, he pops the thing up, the runners get caught off of their bases, and you never know.

So now with one out and the runners moved to third and second, up stepped Ryan Theriot --and again, a line drive speared on the infield with a runner strayed off base could have ended it.  Theriot looked at strike one, fouled off a couple of pitches and then watched a ball thrown outside of the zone before grounding out and scoring Descalso from third base, with Jay remaining rooted to second. While again a double play to end it was unlikely, it could have happened, so that ups our running tally to 21.

Now there were two out with Jay representing the tying run at second base and Albert stepping in. Of course, he was issued a free pass, and we won't count those four pitches wide of the zone that sent Albert to first base and put a forceout in order at any base aside from home as Berkman came to bat.

Lance would foul off the first pitch that he saw from Oliver, look at ball one, foul off another and then take ball two before cuffing a single up the middle that plated Jay and leveled scores once again.

And so adding the five pitches that Berkman saw, the Rangers threw 26 pitches, to seven batters over two half-innings, that could have ended the World Series with themselves crowned champions.

Throwing out the two pitches thrown in the first Berkman at bat with Pujols the runner at second and one out in the 9th, the two that the bunting Lohse saw with two on and none out in the 10th and the five that the next man up Ryan Theriot saw on his way to grounding out with runners at second and third, that still leaves us with 17 pitches thrown to four batters over two half-innings that had a highly realistic chance of ending the game, whether by retiring the batter or a force play made with two out or by way of a groundball double play chance converted with one out.

And we get to do the whole thing over again tonite.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 8:29 am

Roy Halladay: The Last of a Dying Breed, or...

Congratulations to Roy Halladay, who pitched his Phillies to a win and his 20th credited victory of the 2010 season on Tuesday nite against the visiting and pursuing Braves.

Such marks Halladay's third career 20-win season and places him in an elite class unto himself among active major leaguers: he is the only man with a minimum of three 20-win seasons to his credit.

Indeed --as we have seen-- the extinction of what we loosely might term the "perennial 20-game winner" was all but a fait accompli in Major League Baseball, as the 2010 campaign marked the first post-World War II season since 1950 in which the season began with no man having amassed at least three 20-win seasons before the one currently in progress (and in fact, there have been only three other men active in the game this season with as many as two 20-win seasons to their credit: Jamie Moyer, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt).

Anyway, check out that link --breaks it all down in some considerable detail and examines the strong existing correlation between career 20-win seasons and selection to the Hall of Fame-- and again well done to Roy Halliday.

The question before us now is whether he is the last of a dying breed or the first strain of a new one --and we'll be tracking this one until we draw our last breath...
Posted on: January 6, 2010 10:40 am
Edited on: September 23, 2010 8:05 am

Farewell to the Unit, and with him...

Randy Johnson has announced his retirement from competitive baseball, and right around this time five years from now, he'll be taking a congratualatory phone call from the Baseball Hall of Fame upon his selection for enshrinement in Cooperstown upon his first appearance on an annual ballot.

Some observers have suggested that the Big Unit is the last of a dying breed --the career 300-game winner-- and that we won't see another in our lifetime.  This is all a matter of speculation, and it's a good bet that we don't yet know the identity of the next man to reach the milestone, but what we can say for certain is that with Johnson's retirement, we've reached the end of another road with respect to a meaningful evaluative metric pertaining to starting pitchers.

Now that Johnson is done, and assuming that Tom Glavine won't be returning to the game, it can be said that on Opening Day of 2010, and for the first time since 1950, there will be no starting pitchers in Major League Baseball with a minimum of three (3) 20-win seasons to their credit .

There's some real significance to this.  About five or six years ago, I stumbled upon a blog post in which the author evaluated the Hall of Fame credentials of starting pitchers with impressive numbers who have yet to be elected to the Hall --"bubble" guys-- and one point stood out: in assessing Jack Morris, the author acknowledged his career tally of 264 wins and multiple lights-out postseason performances that proved decisive to his ballclubs' attainment of championship glory --but the author also noted that Morris posted "only" three seasons of 20 wins or more.

This seemed a rather odd bit of nitpicking to me.  Twenty wins long has stood as a gold standard of excellence over a full season, but the notion that posting no more than three of them over an otherwise successful and at times dominant career struck me as insignificant from the standpoint of Hall credentials.

My curiosity thus piqued, I opened up and took a look at all of the 20-win seasons posted since the end of World War II, beginning with the 1946 season.  From there, I wrote up the following list that shows the names of all active pitchers who began each season with a minimum of three 20-win seasons to their credit, starting with the 1950 season:

1950: Bob Feller, Johnny Sain (2)
1951: Feller, Sain, Warren Spahn, Bob Lemon (4)
1952: Feller, Sain, Spahn, Lemon, Vic Raschi (5)
1953: Feller, Sain, Spahn, Lemon, Raschi, Robin Roberts (6)
1954: Feller, Sain, Spahn, Lemon, Raschi, Roberts (6)
1955: Feller, Sain, Spahn, Lemon, Raschi, Roberts, Early Wynn (7)
1956: Feller, Spahn, Lemon, Roberts, Wynn (5)
1957: Spahn, Lemon, Roberts, Wynn, Don Newcombe (5)
1958: Spahn, Lemon, Roberts, Wynn, Newcombe (5)
1959: Spahn, Roberts, Wynn, Newcombe (4)
1960: Spahn, Roberts, Wynn, Newcombe (4)
1961: Spahn, Roberts, Wynn (3)
1962: Spahn, Roberts, Wynn (3)
1963: Spahn, Roberts, Wynn (3)
1964: Spahn, Roberts (2)
1965: Spahn, Roberts (2)
1966: Roberts, Juan Marichal (2)
1967: Marichal (1; Sandy Koufax won 20 for the third time in '66 and retired)
1968: Marichal (1)
1969: Marichal, Bob Gibson (2)
1970: Marichal, Gibson, Denny McLain, Mel Stottlemyre, Fergie Jenkins (5)
1971: Marichal, Gibson, McLain, Stottlemyre, Jenkins, Dave McNally (6)
1972: Marichal, Gibson, McLain, Stottlemyre, Jenkins, McNally, Mike Cuellar (7)
1973: Marichal, Gibson, Stottlemyre, Jenkins, McNally, Cuellar, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Tom Seaver (9)
1974: Marichal, Gibson, Stottlemyre, Jenkins, McNally, Cuellar, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Catfish Hunter, Wilbur Wood (11)
1975: Marichal, Gibson, Jenkins, McNally, Cuellar, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Hunter, Wood, Luis Tiant (11)
1976: Jenkins, Cuellar, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Hunter, Wood, Tiant, Jim Kaat, Vida Blue (10)
1977: Jenkins, Cuellar, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Hunter, Wood, Tiant, Kaat, Blue, Steve Carlton (11)
1978: Jenkins, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Wood, Tiant, Kaat, Blue, Carlton (9)
1979: Jenkins, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Tiant, Kaat, Blue, Carlton (8)
1980: Jenkins, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Tiant, Kaat, Blue, Carlton, Phil Niekro (9)
1981: Jenkins, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Tiant, Kaat, Blue, Carlton, Niekro, Tommy John, Dennis Leonard (11)
1982: Jenkins, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Tiant, Kaat, Blue, Carlton, Niekro, John, Leonard (11)
1983: Jenkins, Palmer, Perry, Seaver, Kaat, Blue, Carlton, Niekro, John, Leonard (10)
1984: Palmer, Seaver, Blue, Carlton, Niekro, John, Leonard (7)
1985: Seaver, Blue, Carlton, Niekro, John, Leonard (6)
1986: Seaver, Blue, Carlton, Niekro, John, Leonard, Ron Guidry (7)
1987: Carlton, Niekro, John, Guidry (4)
1988: Carlton, John, Guidry (3)
1989: John (1)
1990: Dave Stewart (1)
1991: Stewart, Roger Clemens (2)
1992: Stewart, Clemens (2)
1993: Stewart, Clemens, Jack Morris (3)
1994: Stewart, Clemens, Morris, Tom Glavine (4)
1995: Stewart, Clemens, Glavine (3)
1996: Clemens, Glavine (2)
1997: Clemens, Glavine (2)
1998: Clemens, Glavine (2)
1999: Clemens, Glavine (2)
2000: Clemens, Glavine (2)
2001: Clemens, Glavine (2)
2002: Clemens, Glavine (2)
2003: Clemens, Glavine, Randy Johnson (3)
2004: Clemens, Glavine, Johnson (3)
2005: Clemens, Glavine, Johnson, Curt Schilling (4)

2006: Clemens, Glavine, Johnson, Schilling (4)

2007: Clemens, Glavine, Johnson, Schilling (4)
2008: Glavine, Johnson (2)
2009: Johnson (1)
2010 (projected): 0

From this, we can look at the total number of 20-win seasons posted by each man, check his Hall status, see if any conclusions may be drawn and look ahead (* denotes Hall of Fame inductee; ** denotes recent retirees/inactives whose eligibility for the Hall ballot has yet to take effect):

13 : Warren Spahn*
9 : Jim Palmer*
7 : Bob Lemon* , Fergie Jenkins*
6 : Bob Feller* , Robin Roberts* , Juan Marichal* , Steve Carlton* , Roger Clemens**
5 : Early Wynn* , Bob Gibson* , Tom Seaver* , Catfish Hunter* , Tom Glavine**
4 : Johnny Sain, Gaylord Perry* , Dave McNally, Luis Tiant, Wilbur Wood, Dave Stewart
3 : Vic Raschi, Don Newcombe*, Sandy Koufax* , Mel Stottlemyre, Denny McLain, Mike Cuellar, Vida Blue, Jim Kaat, Phil Niekro* , Tommy John, Dennis Leonard, Ron Guidry, Jack Morris, Randy Johnson** , Curt Schilling**

One of the first things that jumps out is that the blog post I read that spoke to Jack Morris' credentials was on to something: every postwar pitcher with at least five 20-win seasons has made the Hall (with the exception of Clemens and Glavine, who --if, for the sake of argument, we ignore everything outside the lines and limit our focus strictly to the numbers-- are surefire Hall of Famers when they become eligible for the ballot).

Once we get into the guys with four 20-win seasons, however, we see a dramatic dropoff, and this holds true for those with three seasons of at least 20 wins.

Randy Johnson is of course a sure thing for Cooperstown, but from there it gets knotty for the three- and four-time 20-win guys, with Jack Morris and Jim Kaat foremost among them.

Don Newcombe got the nod for a number of good reasons, not least that of being the first dominant African American pitcher in majors in the immediate wake of the shattering of the color barrier in 1947.  Sandy Koufax' greatness over a career cut short by pervasive injury speaks for itself, and both Gaylord Perry and Phil Niekro were 300-game winners for their careers.

Don Sutton, despite his 324 career wins and 3.574 strikeouts, was made to wait until his fifth time of eligibility to get the call; the evidence strongly suggests that the fact that he won 20 games just once had a good deal to do with it.

Bert Blyleven's name comes up in most discussions of the unelected but deserving, what with his 287 career wins (to go with 250 losses) and 3,701 strikeouts --but he also posted a single 20-win season, which would appear to be a factor in keeping him out of the Hall.

Greg Maddux only won 20 games in a season twice (although it's a safe bet that he would have done it twice more had not a third of the 1994 season been lost to a players' strike and the following regular season truncated by 18 games, but we can't count nonexistent numbers on the basis of such "ifs").  Of course, Maddux' other numbers more than sufficed to make up for his "deficiency" in the 20-win seasons category, as the roster of Hall enshrinees and those who remain not included would suggest very strongly that it is.

The strong correllation between cumulative 20-win seasons post-1945 and election to the Hall of Fame thus established, what does it mean going forward?  Johnson of course will be in with his 300 wins and eye-popping career strikeouts tally of 4,875, and Glavine with his 305 wins and five 20-win seasons has nothing to worry about (although the case of Roger Clemens is a different matter altogether, and for reasons having nothing to do with career pitching statistics).

Curt Schilling was a standout pitcher in his time and will get some Hall votes, but is he more deserving than Jack Morris?  Will the Jack Morrises, Jim Kaats and Bert Blylevens be seen in a more favorable light by Hall voters with the passage of time and the general dropoff in the 20-win seasons?  What of Mike Mussina, who didn't post a 20-win season until his final one?

Will the fact that since Greg Maddux retired at the end of 2008, there have been no more than five (5) active pitchers with as many as two 20-win seasons to their credit --Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon and Roy Oswalt-- be of any help to such Hall aspirants who come up wanting in the 20-win seasons category? [Edit on 23 September 2010 : Make that six (6), as Roy Halladay went 22-7 for the Blue Jays in 2003 and 20-11 in 2008 before posting his 20th win of the 2010 season for the Phillies on 22nd September --how did I manage to miss that?]

And will the fact that 15 wins in a season is the stuff of a Cy Young award anymore make any difference when the question of individual immortality is in the balance?

Such factors as the emergence in our time of explosive offensive output, specialized relief pitching (to say nothing of managers' heavy reliance upon it) and rigid adherence to five-man starting rotations will be considered --but to what degree?

What new career metric or set of metrics, if any, will supplant 20-win seasons as determinative factors in the minds of Hall of Fame voters of the future?  To what extent would they provide a retrospective boost to the candidacies of Morris, Kaat, Blyleven and their like, in addition to Schilling, Mussina, Pettite and Pedro when the time to evaluate their credentials arrives?

These are the things that this observer thinks about upon the occasion of the retirement of one who has been tabbed by some as the last of the 300-game winners --and, as we have seen herein, perhaps the last of what might be termed, albeit in a very loose interpretation, the perennial 20-game winner in Major League Baseball.

If you've got any thoughts on the matter, feel free to chuck 'em in here.  Thanks for reading, and hang in there for another six weeks until pitchers and catchers report.
Posted on: July 23, 2009 5:05 pm

Buehrle's no-hitter: a look back

Right, still letting the perfecto sink in, but I wanted to chuck this up here --I originally posted it to a Brit soccer club fansite I hang out at, at 11:06 PM on the 18th of April in 2007...

Mark Buehrle hurled the Majors' first no-hitter of the season on Wednesday nite for the White Sox, a sensational performance in which he faced the minimum 27 opposition batters and benefited from some outstanding defensive support as the Sox beat the visiting Texas Rangers by a final count of 6-0.

I didn't tune in until there was one out in top of the 5th inning, at which time the Sox held a 1-0 lead thanks to a Jim Thome home run in the 3rd and the turd Sammy Sosa had just drawn a walk off of Buehrle --who has an excellent pickoff move to first base and caught the clown Sosa napping for the inning's second out.

While the walk issued to Sosa spoiled a perfect game for Buehrle, the subsequent pickoff may have been crucial in preserving the no-hitter as the man at bat, Hank Blalock, bats lefty --and, with first baseman Paul Konerko holding the runner close, a gap in the right side of the infield defense was open until the successful pickoff play; in the event, Blalock would hit a sharp grounder that second baseman Tadahito Iguchi gloved while sliding on the grass in shallow rightfield and fired to first from his knees to get Blalock and end the frame.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Sox put three men on base after two men were out. Jermaine Dye stepped in, looked at three pitches out of the zone and then took a strike before fouling off six straight pitches and then, finally, lacing a line drive just over the leftfield wall and into the Sox' bullpen for a grand slam and a 5-0 Sox lead.

Earlier, Dye had jumped at the wall in rightfield to grab a long flyball and steal a home run away from the aforementioned Blalock with two out in the top of the second inning. In the top of the third inning, Sox third baseman Joe Crede made an excellent diving stop behind the bag of a smashed groundball off the bat of Jerry Hairston, Jr., came to a stop in foul ground, righted himself and made a throw to first that just beat Hairston, who had slid into the bag headfirst; Hairston would be ejected for his hysterical protestations against what replays showed to be a correct umpire's call.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Ian Kinsler would chop a grounder to the middle of the left side past a lunging Crede, but shortstop Juan Uribe ranged into the hole, gloved the ball and fired to first, where Konerko made a fine scoop of the ball on a short hop to retire Kinsler. Jim Thome would pad the Sox' lead with his second solo home run of the evening in the bottom half of that inning.

Aside from a fine effort by the third baseman Crede to charge and glove a soft grounder, hop and throw to first to retire the slow-footed Gerald Laird for the game's final out, there would be no need for any more defensive heroics or offensive output in the eighth or ninth innings as Buehrle rather routinely retired the final six Texas batters to record his first career no-hitter, the first in the the history of the Sox' ground that opened in 1991 and the first for a Sox pitcher since fellow southpaw Wilson Alvarez twirled a no-no in Baltimore on August 11, 1991.

A man of my age isn't given to worshipping athletes, and I don't tend to make favorites of any, but Mark Buehrle would be an exceptional case. Coming up to the majors to work primarily out of the bullpen in the White Sox' divisional championship season of 2000, Buehrle posted a 4-1 record with a solid ERA, establishing himself as a reliable lefty not given to fear on the mound, clearly one to watch and with a fierce pickoff move to first base.

In his full rookie season of 2001, an early rash of injuries decimated the Sox' starting rotation and, in combination with his consistently solid outings, swiftly elevated Buehrle to the top of the five-man rotation, a role that suited him from the beginning. Never overpowering, with a fastball that barely rises into the very low 90+ mph range, he works at a lightning-quick pace (I'm fond of saying that you know it's Buehrle's turn in the rotation when you order a pizza right after the National Anthem, and your doorbell rings during the postgame show).

He's a genuine joy to watch, he's perfectly content to let his defense do the work behind him as he induces a lot of groundballs on the infield --and, with that pickoff move to first, he's entirely unafraid to challenge batters, give up his share of base hits and then keep the baserunners well and truly on their toes (and his being a lefty only helps in this regard); always working in and around the strike zone, he doesn't walk very many batters, either.

He has a tendency to get touched up a bit in the first inning a of ballgame --early two- or three-run deficits are by no means unheard of in a Buehrle outing, and there was the seven-run first inning that he coughed up in Minnesota this time a year ago-- but he also has a knack for settling in, shrugging it off and shutting down the opposition from that point forward (and in fact he picked up the win in that game at Minnesota as he gathered himself and the Sox' batters picked him up).

When the Sox won the World Series, the guy for whom I was most pleased of all was Buehrle; when the championship parade rolled past me at an excellent viewing spot two days later, Buehrle was looking right at me as he exulted fifteen feet directly overhead from the upper level of a double-decked bus making a wide turn at an intersection. Special stuff.

For years, the Missouri native Buerhrle has been dogged by rumors --which he has not only done precious little to dispel but in fact has actively encouraged at times-- that he would prefer to play for the local favorites of his youth, the St. Louis Cardinals, when he is out of contract with the White Sox...which will be at the end of this season. We'll see what happens, and whatever does, I'll always be grateful for the memories.

Great show, Burls --nobody deserves it more.
Posted on: July 9, 2009 10:57 am
Edited on: July 10, 2009 7:47 am

Kingman Watch: Done; Dusted; Ding-Dong --Dead

And so it has come to pass --Placido Polanco rapped out a pair of singles in the Tigers' defeat of the Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit on Wednesday nite to raise his career major league hits tally to 1,576 --and so with that, the Kingman Watch has ended with Dave Ding-Dong consigned forever to a ranking in the category of career major league safe hits that falls short of the top 500 all-time.

You can look here and see for yourself --and that ranking is only going to fall with the passage of time.  Just to review why it matters to me so much: Kingman was a jerk who always let it be known what a big chore it was for him to go out and collect annual salaries measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars --back when that was real money and, if invested shrewdly, so remains to this day-- while having to put up with demanding fans and a prying media.

He hit a lot of very long home runs --I saw the longest one that he hit, done in a Mets uniform in April of 1976 when the Metropolitans were visiting the Friendly Confines back before they were called that-- and also swung and missed to Bunyanesque proportions on occasions too numerous to count.

Some fans of the North Siders still can be counted on to ring up local sports-talk shows and speak of him as deserving of enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame; numbers don't tell the full story, but it's nice at least to pretend to consider this another mark against him on that score (and of course it's not a worry anyway, notwithstanding his otherwise impressive career haul of 442 home runs).

He's the first ballplayer whose grumping about the rough lot of a big-league ballplayer came to my notice; there were others before and ever since, and many of them bigger jerks and much more richly compensated than he; shame in any case on a lad for harboring any illusions with respect to the notion of playing the grand old game for six months out of every season --three of those sleeping in your own bed-- and maintaining physical fitness for the other half of a given year while shagging an endless parade of broads and getting drinks and meals comped being a pretty decent way to spend the second quarter of one's time on this earth (although I'll allow that six weeks in January/February in either of Arizona or Florida had to be quite some cross to bear).

I don't lay claim to any moral high ground here --I've moaned, and lord knows how much and how loud-- about my own occupational lot in life, but then I never could hit a baseball all that well, and I'd've swapped my aggravation for his or that of any other malcontent in the game, endured as long as I could hold out, said the all of the right things about it being a privilege and not made the mistake of paying undue tribute to the the imbeciles in the media by taking them even half as seriously as they take themselves.

And so with that we put this matter to eternal rest, never to be spoken of again, and on to the next target, then: Mark McGwire, he of the 583 career home runs and 1,626 safe hits (with, yeah, a lot of walks thrown in there).  While keeping busy in his retirement from the game warning kids of the dangers of performance-enhancing potions thru the good works of his foundation --presuming, that is, that he's followed up on his promise before the television cameras to an investigating Congressional committee panel some four years ago-- Mighty Mac's status among the all-time top 500 for career hits has plummeted steadily and now leaves him in a tie with Albert Pujols for 455th all-time.

The plan is to track it all right here for as long as they see fit keep the doors open, and it's entirely possible that we do not yet know the name of the forty-fifth man who will pass him and consign him forever to the same status in which Dave Kingman now basks.

In the meantime, batter up.
Posted on: July 8, 2009 7:38 pm

Kingman Watch: [expletive] live, dude

Placido Polanco a single to left in the bottom of the first inning for the Tigers as they host the Royals to draw himself provisionally level with Dave Kingman (and Ivy Olson) in a three-way tie for 500th place on the all-time career major league safe hits list with a running total of 1,575.

Of course, nothing's official until we get thru 5 --but that's the situation as it stands.

Rich Aurilia did not appear in the Giants' home loss to the Marlins this afternoon and remains on 1,571 hits for his career.

Dave Kingman's days among the top 500 for all-time career big league hits may be at an end by the close of business tonite.  Track it here...

Posted on: July 8, 2009 8:45 am

Kingman Watch: Polanco on the brink

As noted in a reply post to the last blog entry herein, Placido Polanco posted a 3-for-5 outing in the Tigers' win over the Royals on Tuesday nite, driving in 4 with a pair of singles and a two-run jack.

He now stands on 1,574 safe hits for his major league career, just one behind Dave Kingman.  With two more hits, Polanco will move into the top 500 all-time in the category of hits and forever consign Dave Kingman to outsider status with respect to the top 500 all-time.

Also pressing Kingman is Rich Aurilia, who did not appear in the Giants' defeat of the Marlins on Tuesday nite.  Aurilia's career hits tally holds at 1,571 and leaves him 5 short of passing Kingman.  Here's how the relevant portion of the career hits rankings table (source: Major League Baseball) looks as we head into Wednesday's play:

T500) Ivy Olson 1,575
T500) Dave Kingman 1,575
T502) Ezra Sutton 1,574
T502) Placido Polanco 1,574
T504) Dave Cash 1,571
T504) David Justice 1,571
T504) Rich Aurilia 1,571

Polanco will have four more game opportunities in which to take aim at Kingman before the All-Star break arrives.  The Tigers host the Royals again on Wednesday nite, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 Eastern; they have a scheduled day off on Thursday and then play host to Cleveland for a three-game weekend set beginning on Friday before shutting it down for the break.

As for Aurilia, the Giants host Florida again on Wednesday in an afternoon affair before entertaining the Padres in a four-game set that gets going on Thursday.  Aurilia is not an everyday man in the Giants' lineup, so his opportunities will be limited.

It may be worthwhile at this time to have a look at other pursuers of Kingman as we seek to eliminate Kingman's name from the top 500 career hits list for all of time.

Brad Ausmus makes the occasional start behind the plate for the Dodgers, and he stands on 1,552 career hits.  It appears unlikely that he will pass Kingman by season's end

Mike Cameron has raised his career tally to 1,542 and now stands 36 shy of passing Kingman

Mark Kotsay is platooning in Boston these days and has 1,540 career hits

Jimmy Rollins has picked up his pace this week and has gotten his career number up to 1,535 to leave himself 41 hits short of passing Kingman's career haul

Lance Berkman is on 1,523 and steadily adding to his tally

Mike Lowell is doing a hitch on the disabled list and is now into the rehab phase.  He has 1,513 hits for his career and will need to rack up 63 more to pass Kingman on the all-time list before season's end

In other news, Paul Konerko collected three hits last nite to move past Mark McGwire's career tally of 1,626.  There are now 36 players active in the majors this season who have more career hits than McGwire; Albert Pujols is now dead even with McGwire, and each of Derrek Lee, Michael Young and Polanco are solid bets to pass McGwire in the career hits category by season's end.

So back to the topic at hand, do keep it right here --the Dave Ding-Dong Deathwatch, as it were, is well and truly on.
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