The Baseball Report Volume IV Issue 12
September 13, 2000
From The Editor,
Before you read the issue, I'd just like to remind you all to forward TBR to anyone who you think may be interested, as the more people that read, the better.
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Now, onto the issue...
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Flirting With History by Emily Liner
Todd Helton and Nomar Garciaparra are attempting what so few major leaguers have done, bat .400 in a season. Only seven players have ever reached that plateau in the twentieth century, the most recent being 59 years ago by Boston's Ted Williams. Only St. Louis's Rogers Hornsby, who hit .424 in 1924, and Detroit's Ty Cobb have hit over the magical number more than once.
Garciaparra, the shortstop of the Boston Red Sox, won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1997 and was last year's batting champion. He is currently leading his league with a .363 batting average. He is second in the AL with forty-three doubles, in the top five in intentional walks with sixteen, and in the top ten in slugging and on-base percentage with .587 and .427, respectively. After a stint on the fifteen-day disabled list early in the season his performance greatly improved. He was batting near .400 in early July, but his average has been declining since the All-Star Break.
Helton, the Colorado Rockies' first baseman, has been an all-around offensive powerhouse this season. He leads the NL in several batting categories, most of them by large margins, with a batting average of .384, a slugging percentage of .703, an on-base percentage of .475, 191 hits, fifty-three doubles, 350 total bases, eighty-nine extra base hits, and nineteen intentional walks. He is second in runs with 123 and RBIs with 122, in the top five in walks with ninety, and in the top ten in home runs with thirty-four. He has done all of this with only forty-eight strikeouts.
Helton's batting average has not fallen below .370 since May 3. He even reached .400 for a short time during a game on August 21. No one else has hit that high this late in a season since George Brett of the Kansas City Royals twenty years ago, and he ended the season with a .390 average.
"If he does it, I'll be very, very happy for him. And if he doesn't do it, I hope he hits .389," jokes Brett. He adds seriously, "It's something that I would like to see. And I think Ted Williams would too."
Atlanta Braves' pitcher Tom Glavine, who has pitched against both Helton and Garciaparra, says, "It's the kind of thing that you really haven't seen too many people make a serious run at. When somebody finally does, it's hard to take it too seriously because you figure things are going to start leveling off. But it seems like Todd's gotten even hotter."
Many people believe that because Helton plays in Coors Field, his statistics should not really count. That is because Denver has such a high altitude that the air is thinner than in, for instance, Miami, Florida. The thinner the air is, the farther something will travel, which is a baseball in this case. Current Rockies' outfielder Larry Walker and former first baseman Andres Galarraga also took advantage of Coors Field. Walker hit .379 in 1999, and Galarraga hit .370 in 1993. However, Helton's .365 batting average and .453 on-base percentage would be second in the NL compared to other players' overall numbers, and his .643 slugging percentage would rank in the top ten.
"I think if he does it, it's not gonna be just barely over. I think it's gonna be way over. I think he's going to do it," says Tony Gwynn about Helton. Gwynn, the San Diego Padres' outfielder, hit .394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season and .372 in 1997.
Helton sums up his feelings about hitting .400 commenting, "It's just another number. I mean, what if I hit .399, you know? Am I going to go home and be disappointed with myself? I'm not at all. I'm going to say, 'That's a good season, I wish the team would've won more.' I'm not going to go home and think about what I could've done to get a point higher."
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Playing The Short Hop by Michael Frankel
Finally the end is coming. As the saga that is the baseball season winds down, the October picture begins to arise. Sure, the Yankees will be there. The Braves will be there too. The White Sox have finally earned an invitation to the party, as have the Cardinals for the first time since 1996, when they were one game away from meeting the World Series.
But still so much remains to be decided. Can the Mets turn it around fast enough to save themselves the wild card (4.5 games)? Can the Braves hold first place through a Mets turnaround (2.5 games)? And just who will have the NL's best record (Giants by 2 games)?
The American League picture is much cloudier. The Yankees will win the East (again), the White Sox will win the Central, and the West winner? Seattle by 1 game over the A's, even at 66 on the loss side. The A's remain .5 games on the Wild Card, two back on the loss side behind Cleveland. Straight on their tales are the Red Sox and Blue Jays, who sit two and three games back respectively.
Check out the up to the minute standings at http://www.majorleaguebaseball.com/u/baseball/mlb/standings/alstandings.htm
Wins, Wins, Wins
As the trading deadline approached last year, reports indicated the Yankees were close to trading Andy Pettitte numerous teams, including the Phillies. Just think where the Yankees would be today without Pettitte, after suffering injuries to Orlando Hernandez, David Cone and Ramiro Mendoza.
Pettitte stands at 18-7 with a 4.02 Earned Run Average this season. His next win will be his 100th win. To put that in perspective, Andy Pettitte season since 1996 have looked like this:
1996: 21-8, 3.87
1997: 18-7, 2.88
1998: 16-11, 4.24
1999: 14-11, 4.70
2000: 18-7, 4.02
Since 1996, just two pitchers in baseball have as many or more wins than Pettitte; Greg Maddux with 88 and Pedro Martinez with 87. Pettitte has 87. Sure, Pettitte's ERA is higher, but wins are wins and any manager will tell you he would prefer a winner to a low ERA guy (See Abbott, Jim - California Angels).
Moves That Never Did
Sure the Yankees may not be in 1st place right now without Andy Pettitte, but imagine where the White Sox would be without Frank Thomas. After a disappointing 1998 season, and a lackluster beginning to the 1999 season, White Sox management was considering letting the Yankees have Thomas, similar to what the Devil Rays did with Jose Canseco.
As for playoff teams past, the Padres acquired Randy Myers from the Blue Jays in a preventative waiver deal during their NL Championship 1998 season. During the following offseason, the Padres were so close to trading Myers that they believed it was a done deal and canceled his insurance policy. Myers got hurt, the trade never transpired, and the Padres paid Myers his salary in full. His contract has yet to expire, and he has not thrown a pitch since October, 1998.
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Q: From reader firstname.lastname@example.org: Is there any difference between the 15- and 60-day disabled lists, other than the obvious minimum number of days inactive?
A: Good question. The difference between each disabled list is the effect on a team's 40-man roster. When placed on the 15-day DL, a player still occupies a spot on the 40-man roster. When placed on the 60-day DL though, a player does not occupy a spot on the 40-man roster. This allows the team to add a new player, from outside or inside the organization to the 40-man roster.
For those who are not aware, only players on the 40-man roster may be called up to major league team as part of the 25-man roster.
*To submit a question, email email@example.com, subject question
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Last Issue: From where does the nickname "Southpaw" originate?
Answer(s): (submitted by reader firstname.lastname@example.org)
Considering rule 1.04 states that "it is desirable that the line from home base through the pitcher's plate to second base shall run Ease-Northeast" and if a pitcher stands on the mound facing homeplate and is left handed, then their throwing arm is generally to the South (while a right hander's throwing arm is generally to the North), I 'guess' that lefties became 'South paws' due to the layout of the field.
(submitted by reader email@example.com)
"Southpaw" originates from the direction that most stadiums face (If I recall correctly, Comiskey is the exception). The way most stadiums are set up, pitchers face the east when pitching, and therefore their left arm is facing the south. If they're lefthanded, then obviously their pitching arm is the arm facing south, and thus, they're a southpaw. I think.
This Issue's Question: In 1981, the New York Yankees lost the World Series to the LA Dodgers. What Dodger pitcher, who later became a NY Yankee, recorded the last out?
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That's all for this issue.
Till next time,
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copyright 2000 The Baseball Report