- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Now that we've fixed some of the email glitches in our reader Useless Information hotline, we've been deluged with some fabulous suggestions. So here's just some of our recent influx:
Our readers were transfixed this month by Armando Benitez. Loyal reader Jay Goodfellow wonders if any player before Benitez has ever made an All-Star team, then gotten traded twice in the next month.
Good question. And the answer, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is no sirree.
Loyal reader Elliot Katz has another amazing Armando Benitez note:
In the same week last month, the Yankees traded for both of the closers for the last two Mets World Series teams -- the 2000 Mets (Benitez) and the 1986 Mets (Jesse Orosco). We'll ignore, for purposes of this note, the fact that the Yankees since have dumped both of them.
With these acquisitions in mind, Katz began wondering how many other 1986 Mets and 2000 Mets have been teammates. And the answer is: We have no idea.
We started to look it up until we realized this is a perfect assignment for you statheads out in cyberspace. But we'll give you a hint:
A bunch of readers checked in to report that the Cubs' Augie Ojeda was intentionally walked by the Astros on Aug. 12, even though his batting average at the time was .000 (0-for-9).
Of course, everybody wanted to know all the players in history who have so lucked out.
Now we know that back in 2001, the Blue Jays called up a third baseman named Luis Lopez who was intentionally walked in the first at-bat of his career. But trust us: It's impossible to research every player in history who was intentionally walked before he got a hit in a season.
But loyal reader Ernie Panos took this one step farther. He enlisted the help of baseball-encyclopedia.com's Lee Sinins to come up with a complete list of every player who had an intentional walk in a season but no hits. (Ojeda no longer qualifies, by the way.) We're not going back to the beginnings of time with this one. But we'll count those since the beginning of division play in 1969:
Chito Martinez 1993 *
Geronimo Berroa 1990
Tim Corcoran 1986
Larry Cox 1982
Jim Driscoll 1972
Mike Easler 1973
Barry Lyons 1986
Candy Maldonado 1982
Kimera Bartee 2001
Carl Nichols 1986
Dennis Paepke 1972
Dave Rohde 1992
Tom Silverio 1970
Del Unser 1982
Al Weis 1971
Gonzalo Marquez 1974
(* -- had 2 intentional walks, 0 hits for 1993 Orioles)
Meanwhile, Sinins reports that the only two players to have an intentional walk in their careers -- but no hits -- are Neil Wilson of the 1960 Giants and Rex Johnston of the 1964 Pirates. With any luck, that will satisfy your morbid curiosity.
But rather than ask us if this had ever happened before, DeMoss went to the books and reported that the last time the Phillies had two players do that in a season of 400 or more at-bats was 1902, when Monte Cross (.197) and Bill Hallman (.185) both did it. Well, history won't repeat itself this year, because Bell is injured and won't get to 400 at-bats. But he's already over 300 plate appearances. So we took it from there.
Last team to have two players hit below .200 in a season in which each got at least 300 plate appearances: the 1988 Dodgers. Here they are:
Mike Davis .196 (310 PA)
Alfredo Griffin .199 (354 PA)
Burrell was actually back over .200 last time we checked. But if there's any good omen here for the Phillies, it's this: Those 1988 Dodgers won the World Series.
You can tell loyal reader Mike Carroll gets the hang of this Useless Information stuff. He went to watch the Expos play the Astros on Aug. 10 and noticed that Frank Robinson was apparently making out the Expos' batting order by looking at everybody's uniform number.
Batting first was No. 1, Jose Macias. Batting second was No. 2, Jamey Carroll. And batting third was No. 3, Jose Vidro. Unfortunately, it would have been kind of tough to justify hitting No. 4, Henry Mateo (31 hits -- 28 of them singles), cleanup. So the string stopped there.
But Carroll couldn't help but wonder if anyone knows of a team that went 1-2-3-4 or even beyond. We don't. But if you do, you know where to find us.
A reader who identified himself only as "Adam" checked in with a truly spectacular slice of Useless Info involving the A's.
In a span of four games, from Aug. 10-13, every one of the top five pitchers in the American League ERA standings started a game for or against the A's:
Now that's some serious entertainment -- and some seriously Useless Information. By the way, three days later, the A's faced the AL leader in wins, Roy Halladay.
Other Useless Contributions
Eric Orns, the loyal reader who probably has mastered the Useless-Information concept better -- and more relentlessly -- than any of our faithful correspondents, could probably fill a whole column just with Eric Gagne factoids.
He checked in recently with one that really got our attention: For the second time this year, Gagne just finished a streak in which he pitched at least eight consecutive perfect innings (i.e., retired 24 hitters or more in a row).
A Herculean feat. So we asked the Elias Sports Bureau to find the last pitcher who had two streaks of at least 24 up, 24 down in the same season. And the answer is ...
No, not Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax or even Rob Dibble. It was actually Danny Cox, who did it for the 1985 Cardinals -- without pitching a no-hitter or even a one-hitter. (He did throw two two-hitters that year.)
Loyal reader Matt Mitchell couldn't help but notice that every time the Red Sox hit back-to-back home runs, Jason Varitek seemed to be involved. It isn't true that Varitek has gotten mixed up in all the Red Sox back-to-backers this year. But he has taken part in six of them -- with six different hitters:
April 27 -- David Ortiz Jason Varitek
May 11 -- Jeremy Giambi Jason Varitek
June 7 -- Trot Nixon Jason Varitek
July 4 -- Bill Mueller Jason Varitek
July 22 -- Kevin Millar Jason Varitek
July 27 -- Jason Varitek Johnny Damon
The Red Sox record is seven in one year, by George (Boomer) Scott, in 1977. But Varitek will have to do some big-time back-to-backing to reach the major-league record. Here are the top five, courtesy of the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent:
PARTNERS IN SLAMITUDE:
Loyal reader Dave Rodham noticed there was a certain symmetry to Marcus Giles' two career grand slams. His first one, in 2001, was hit against Mike Hampton. His second one, this July 28, was hit with Hampton on base. Perfect.
Finally, loyal Pittsburgh reader Vince Mareino went to a recent Pirates game and watched Kip Wells give up four solo homers before getting hooked. So he wondered what the record was for most solos allowed in one game. And the answer is ...
He needed one more, Vince.
The 16 pitchers who have served up five solos in a game, courtesy of the Sultan:
Eddie Lopat 4/23/1947
Joe Ostrowski 6/22/1950
Preacher Roe 9/1/1953
Warren Hacker 8/11/1954
Don Mossi 6/23/1961
Denny McLain 6/16/1971
Don Sutton 5/7/1973
Steve Stone 7/9/1974
Mike Caldwell 5/31/1980
Bill Gullickson 6/25/1987
Mark Langston 4/19/1988
Tim Wakefield 9/15/1996
Rolando Arrojo 4/24/1999
Ismael Valdes 6/11/2000
Rick Helling 8/27/2000
Chris Reitsma 8/31/2002
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trading an All-Star player is not exactly a rare occurrence, expect when it happened to Armando Benitez twice in a month.