Don't forget about these remarkable performances
It has already been a great year to be a historian. Or at least it's been a better year to be a historian than to be, say, Neifi Perez.Well, historic homer No. 756 may have come and gone. But that doesn't mean there isn't lots of cool history out there that could still be made. It's just that Barry Bonds won't be the fellow making it. Anybody complaining about that? So what big feats are out there on the horizon, you ask? You're about to find out. Let's take a look at five that have dodged the radar screen so far:
The 150-150 ClubWhen we focus on Alex Rodriguez's stupendous season, it's funny how we tend to zero in on all those home runs he hits -- as opposed to the part of his season that's really historic.
The 50-50 ClubOne of the sharpest scouting minds we know was talking the other day about Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez -- and uttered a sentence we can't get out of our heads: "Other than Alex Rodriguez," he said, "Hanley Ramirez may be the best all-around player in the game."
The 20-20-20-20 ClubCurtis Granderson and Jimmy Rollins might not be the two most conventional leadoff hitters in baseball. But we're finding out this season that that's actually a good thing. Granderson led the league in strikeouts last season. But so what? Rollins has never walked 60 times in any season. Big deal. They both offer other attributes that compensate nicely for the portions of their games that might not fit the "Brett Butler Theoretically Prototype Leadoff Hitter Handbook." For one thing, Rollins and Granderson top all leadoff men in baseball in runs scored -- which is a helpful talent for a leadoff hitter. But a big reason they score all those runs is because they make an impact on the game in so many different ways -- potentially historic ways, in fact. The 20-Double, 20-Triple, 20-Homer, 20-Steal Club has been reached by only two players in the history of baseball. One was a man whose nickname suggests he was destined to be a 20-20-20-20 guy -- the immortal Wildfire Schulte in 1911. The other was a fellow named Willie Mays (1957). Well, somebody had better send those guys an IM -- because company appears to be coming.
|Jimmy Rollins is on pace this year to rack up 86 extra-base hits. Can you name the only two shortstops in history who have ever gotten more extra-base hits in a season? (Answer later.)|
The 0-for-162 ClubBefore we let Granderson leave the room, we have to alert you that he has his eye on more than just that 20-20-20-20 vision. How many times has Granderson grounded into a double play this season? That would be, well, none. In 507 trips to the plate and 459 official at-bats.
The 0.80 ClubIf we told you there was a relief pitcher out there who was on the verge of compiling the lowest ERA by any National Leaguer in history (60 innings or more), who would you guess that might be? Billy Wagner? Trevor Hoffman? Takashi Saito? Nope. Wrong. Wrong. And wrong again.
Waiver rumblingsJuly may be in our rearview mirror, but the hunt for bodies to trade for goes on -- not real successfully, but it goes on nonetheless. "We've been watching the waiver wire with bated interest," said an executive of one team. "But nobody is letting any pitching worth a [hoot] get through." As always, we've been trying to maintain a list of players who have made it through waivers this month -- and those who haven't. Since hundreds of players have hit the waiver wire, we're confining this extremely partial list to players whose names were filling up Rumor Central before the trade deadline: Pitchers who have cleared: Steve Trachsel, Jose Contreras, Josh Towers, Odalis Perez. Position players who have cleared: Troy Glaus, Jack Wilson, Pat Burrell, Dmitri Young, Omar Vizquel, Jeff Conine, Mike Piazza, Wily Mo Pena, Jason Lane. Pitchers who were claimed and withdrawn: Jon Garland, Javier Vazquez, Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls, David Riske, Kei Igawa, Matt Thornton. Position players who were claimed and withdrawn: Miguel Tejada, Mark Loretta, Jacque Jones, Scott Hatteberg, Richie Sexson, Mike Lamb, Corey Patterson.
Ready to rumble• Barry Bonds may be saying (this week) that he wants to play only in San Francisco next season, but don't bet your copy of "Game of Shadows" that he'll get that wish. Giants officials, coaches and even players have been telling their friends all over the sport they have to nudge Barry out the door next year. "It's not just about the team," said one NL executive who has gotten an earful from the Giants' brass. "It's about the perception of the team. All you ever see, or hear about, is him." And don't think it's only the front office that feels that way. "We're like the E Street Band," quipped one Giants player recently. "Nobody even knows the rest of us are here."
• We're not sure Manuel has much of a shot at being Manager of the Year, but there's now more of a chance the Phillies will bring him back than anyone expected. "That club is really growing on me," one scout said. "Charlie has done a great job, despite what their fans think. That team has the best makeup of any club in that division, even with all the injuries they've had. And that's a tribute to the manager."
Draft rumblingsMLB needs to do one of two things with its amateur draft, in the wake of No. 27 pick Rick Porcello's $7.3 million contract with the Tigers, coming out of (gulp) high school. Either it's time to negotiate a system of formal slotting for draft-pick bonuses -- a concept big league players would heartily endorse, incidentally -- or it's time to bag the draft completely. But doing it this way, and allowing the Scott Borases of the agent world to manipulate the system at will, is pointless. "We're inviting suicide with this thing," grumbled one scouting director. "After the way this went down, nobody is going to sign before Aug. 15 next year. They'll all hold out." MLB did its best to shove its unofficial slotting system down the pipes of clubs and agents. But it was obvious way back on draft day that teams like the Tigers, Yankees and even the Devil Rays had no intention of playing along if it meant not signing their picks. And that left scouting directors all over the sport unhappy, whether their teams were playing along with the system or not. "Either there is a rule, or there isn't," said an official of one club. "Once the Tigers went over the slot, it was basically all over. You can't have a rule that's selective. Either you have one or not." Instead of lecturing the teams that did what they had to do, MLB officials ought to second-guess each other for not attempting to negotiate a formal slotting system into the new labor deal. So was Porcello worth the money? "He's good," said one scouting director. "But I don't think he's that good. He's not [Joel] Zumaya or [Justin] Verlander. Let's put it that way. He doesn't have that kind of breaking ball." But another longtime scouting director disagreed (kind of), saying: "This kid is as good as Josh Beckett was coming out of high school. But does that mean he's worth it? I don't know. I thought Matt White [signed by Tampa Bay a decade ago for $10 million] was the best high school pitcher I'd ever seen. And he never threw a pitch in the big leagues."
Rumbling along• Can someone explain why the Tigers and Yankees weren't scheduled to play a single game against each other before Aug. 16 -- and then will have their entire eight-game season series crammed into the next 12 days? As challenging as it may be to fit this schedule into a six-month maze, shouldn't it be a priority for teams to have their matchups more spaced out than that? The Blue Jays played all six of their games against the Tigers between Opening Day and April 15. How much healthier was that Tigers team than this one? And playing the Yankees in May bore zero resemblance to playing them now. Just because it's logistically easier to squish those home-and-home series together doesn't make it better for competitive balance.
|Alex Rodriguez (91 in 1996, 87 in 2001) and Robin Yount (87 in 1982)|
Headliner of the weekFrom the Chicago sports-parody Web site, theheckler.com:
- "Contreras' wife awarded 10 mph on fastball in divorce settlement"
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His new book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," has been published by Triumph Books and is now available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy.