Thursday, December 22, 2016


It's hard to believe that the annual Hall of Fame elections are here again. That means it's time for my annual predictions. (...And for the record, some of them have actually come true in years past!)

There are thirty-four players on the primary ballot, nineteen of which are first-year candidates. Several of these hopefuls won't get enough support for consideration in 2018. These include: Matt Stairs, Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Guillen, Melvin Mora, Jason Varitek, Pat Burrell, J.D Drew, Mike Cameron and Derek Lee.

There are at least four first-year candidates who should get enough votes to return to the ballot in 2018. One or two of these players may actually be enshrined in the coming year. Players I believe will return to next year's ballot are Manny Ramirez and Jorge Posada. Posada's five World Series rings will definitely hold some sway over voters and Ramirez put up an impressive batch of statistics in spite of all those "Manny Moments." But Posada's numbers are not of the first-year enshrinement variety. And Manny's adventures with steroids will undoubtedly keep him out of the Hall--for the time being at least.

The two first-year players I believe have a very good shot at induction are Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero. Rodriguez has more hits and Gold Gloves than any catcher in history. He also has an AL MVP Award to his credit. Guerrero was one the best hitters in the majors over a thirteen-year span, averaging 33 homers and 107 RBIs per season from 1998 through 2010. Though he led the league in errors as a right fielder nine times, he currently ranks among the top thirty of all time in assists and double plays. 

Front runners from last year's primary ballot include Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman and Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell led the class of non-inductees with 71.6 percent of the vote. Raines, now in his tenth year of eligibility, garnered 69.8 percent. Hoffman, who is second on the all time saves list, netted an impressive 67.3 percent in his first appearance on the ballot. 

In July 2016, the Hall of Fame announced changes to the Era Committee system. Time frames were restructured to decrease the frequency of pre-1970s consideration. As a result, the "Today's Game Era Committee" will make its debut in 2017. The ballot includes players, managers and executives from 1988 into the twenty-first century. The players being considered are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Mark McGwire. Lou Piniella, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner are among the managers and executives on the list. 


It's a tough call, but I believe that Ivan Rodriguez will make it. I also feel that George Steinbrenner has a legitimate shot. Like him or hate him, "The Boss" did more for the Yankees than any owner in history. His 11 pennants and 7 World Series titles definitely support that claim. In regard to last year's leading candidates, I'll go out on a limb and predict that Jeff Bagwell--arguably the greatest player in Astros history--will get the additional votes he needs this time around.     


Monday, December 12, 2016

TOUGH LUCK LOSERS: Pitchers Who Deserved Much Better in the Win Column


A spit-baller, Walsh holds the record for lowest lifetime ERA with a 1.82 mark. He led the league in that category during the 1910 campaign yet still managed to lose 20 games. The White Sox scored just 456 runs all season (second worst in the majors) rendering Walsh's 1.27 ERA virtually meaningless on multiple occasions. Between 1907 and 1912, Walsh averaged 374 innings of work per year. By 1913, his arm was shot. He was enshrined at Cooperstown in 1946.


Born Irvin Key Wilhelm, this journeyman right-hander despised his nickname. He lasted through nine big league seasons nevertheless and set a minor league record with 72 consecutive scoreless innings. He deserved a better fate in 1908, losing 22 games in spite of his sparkling 1.87 ERA. The Brooklyn Superbas lost over 100 games that year and were outscored by a collective margin of 141 in an era when runs were at a premium.


Scott spent his entire career with the White Sox. He was big for the era at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. Hailing from Wyoming, he carried the nickname of "Death Valley." Scott lost a league high 21 games in 1913 though he posted a handsome 1.90 ERA. He gave up just 2 home runs all season. His teammates--deadball standouts Hal Chase, Buck Weaver and Shano Collins among them--managed to score just 486 runs--worst in the American League.

1904 -- 1905

Between 1904 and 1908, Howell compiled a collective ERA of 2.02. He had the misfortune of playing on one of the worst teams in the majors. With lackluster offensive support, he lost 21 games in 1904 and 22 more the following year. His collective WHIP average of 1.07 in those two seasons indicates that he should have won far more often. Extremely versatile, Howell appeared in over a hundred games as an infielder and outfielder.


Largely forgotten today, Rucker was one of the top left-handers of the Deadball Era, winning 13 or more games in seven consecutive seasons. In 1912, the hapless Brooklyn Dodgers consistently failed to put runs on the board when Rucker was pitching. Rucker led the league with 6 shutouts and posted a 2.21 ERA yet somehow managed to lose 21 games. He spent his entire career in Brooklyn and retired with an even-.500 record.


The Senators were so star-crossed, they inspired the popular saying: "Washington--First in War, First in Peace and Last in the American League!" The second winningest pitcher of all time behind Cy Young, Johnson felt the poignancy of that statement in 1909, when he lost 25 games while posting a miserly 2.22 ERA. The Senators dropped a total of 110 games in '09, including a run of 11 in a row from August 26 to September 6.   


A little known Hall of Famer, Rixey was outstanding during the Deadball Era. When the lively ball arrived, he kept right on winning, accumulating a lifetime total of 266 victories. In 1917, the reliable southpaw made 18 appearances in Philadelphia's Baker Bowl, a hitter's paradise that featured a 281 foot foul line in right field. Rixey fared remarkably well in spite of the hazard, accruing a spectacular 2.27 ERA. The Phillies didn't have the offense to back him up, however, and Rixey absorbed 21 losses. 


"Long Tom" Hughes won 20 games for Boston in 1903 and pitched in baseball's first World Series. Two seasons later, he was toeing the rubber for the lowly Washington Senators. The Capital City crew finished 23 games below .500 that year and Hughes absorbed 20 losses in spite of his 2.35 ERA. 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

EPILOGUE TO PERFECTION: How Perfect Game Pitchers Fared After Their Moment of Glory (Concluded)

May 18, 2004

Long time ace of the Mariners staff, Johnson was playing for the Diamondbacks when he completed his masterpiece. He struck out 13 Braves opponents, nearly tying Sandy Koufax's perfect game record of 14. Johnson won 16 games in 2004 at the age of 40 and led the NL with 290 strikeouts. After his perfecto, he won his next five starts, giving up a combined total of 12 earned runs in 31.1 innings. A first ballot Hall of Famer, he captured five Cy Young Awards during his career. He currently ranks second on the all time strikeout list. 

July 23, 2009

Pitching in Chicago against Tampa Bay, the left-handed Buehrle used 116 pitches to subdue the Rays offense. In the ninth inning, center fielder DeWayne Wise climbed up the wall to rob Tampa's Gabe Kapler of a home run. In his next start, Buehrle completed another 5.2 perfect innings, extending a streak of 45 consecutive batters retired. This was a record that stood until 2014. The highly durable Buehrle won 10 or more games in fifteen straight seasons. He made no fewer than 30 starts per year in that span. In addition to his perfect game, he also threw a no-hitter. 

May 9, 2010

Oakland's Dallas Braden lasted just five seasons in the majors and ended up with a 26-36 record. In spite of his mediocrity, he was perfect against the Rays on the above mentioned date. Only 12,288 fans were on hand to see this Mother's Day game, which lasted just 2 hours and 7 minutes. It was Braden's first complete game. In his next outing, he gave up 4 runs on 7 hits in a 5-1 loss to the Angels. He finished the season at 11-14.

May 29, 2010

Halladay's masterpiece occurred just 20 days after Dallas Braden's, marking the shortest time between perfect games in major league history. During his sixteen-year career, Halladay led the league in complete games seven times and shutouts on four occasions. Traded from Toronto to Philadelphia before the 2010 campaign, his crowning achievement came against the Marlins. He posted a 21-10 record that year and narrowly missed another perfect game against the Reds in the NLDS. He ended up walking one batter, becoming the only perfect game pitcher to toss a no-hitter in the same season. 

April 21, 2012

Humber's perfect game against the Mariners at Safeco Field was the third of its kind in White Sox history. The 29 year old Humber used just 96 pitches to polish off his opponents. The last out of the game was a full count check-swing strike. The ball was dropped by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who promptly threw to first base. Among the most unlikely candidates for a perfect game, Humber finished the 2012 season with a 6.44 ERA. He was even worse the following year with a 7.90 mark and a 0-8 record. It was his last season in the majors. 

June 13, 2012

Before the above mentioned date, no Giants pitcher had ever tossed a perfect game. Cain turned the trick against the Astros. He piled up 14 strikeouts, tying the record set by Sandy Koufax in 1965. Cain's outfielders offered a show of support with spectacular catches in the sixth and seventh innings. 2012 was Cain's all around best season as he posted a 16-5 record with a 2.79 ERA. Since then, he has logged a .355 won/loss percentage. He made just 21 starts in 2016.

 August 15, 2012

Hernandez's perfecto was the third of the season--the first time this had ever happened. The Mariners ace struck out 12 Rays opponents and used 113 pitches. He felt pretty good that day, confiding to writers afterward that he was thinking about a perfect game from the second inning on. After the historical effort, he yielded just 1 earned run in his next 17 innings of work.  Generally considered to be one of the best pitchers in the American League, "King Felix" has earned six All Star selections and a Cy Young Award. He is carrying a a 3.16 lifetime ERA into the 2017 campaign. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

EPILOGUE TO PERFECTION: How Perfect Game Pitchers Fared After Their Moment of Glory (Part III--From the Expansion Era to the End of the Century)

MAY 8, 1968

Aside from the performance itself, there are two remarkable features that set Hunter's perfect game apart. First, he was only twenty-two years old--the youngest pitcher of the modern era to accomplish the feat. Second, he put forth an amazing offensive display that day, going 3-for-4 with a double and 3 RBIs. Playing in his fourth season, Hunter would later forge a Hall of Fame career that included a Cy Young Award and eight All Star selections. After completing his perfect game against the Twins at Oakland Coliseum, Hunter received a phone call from A's owner Charlie Finley informing him that he had cost the team $5,000. "I'm sorry," said Hunter politely. "Who got it?" "You did," replied Finley. "It'll be in your next contract."

MAY 15 1981

A right-hander, the twenty-five year old Barker was an unlikely candidate for a perfect game. Though he had won 19 games the previous season and led the AL with 187 strikeouts, he had never posted an ERA below 4.17 as a full-time starter. Barker struck out 11 Toronto hitters at Cleveland Stadium and used 103 pitches to record the eighth perfect game in modern history. Only 7,290 fans were in attendance. In Barker's next game, he gave up 3 runs on 8 hits and was charged with his second loss of the season. Beset by arm problems, he missed most of June and July, going 3-4 with a 6.00 ERA after the All Star break. 

SEPTEMBER 30, 1984

Tall and lanky at six-foot-seven, 187 pounds, Witt packed his best seasons into a five-year span. Between 1984 and 1988, he posted a 77-59 record for the Angels. During his last start of the '84 campaign, he out-dueled Charlie Hough of the Rangers for a 1-0 perfect game victory. Hough held the Angels scoreless for 6 innings before giving up an unearned run on a fielders choice. Witt retired every batter he faced, using 94 pitches while striking out 10. The game was played in a remarkably brief 1 hour and 49 minutes. After his perfecto, Witt made his next regular season appearance in April of 1985. He lasted through 7.2 rough innings, giving up 10 hits and 4 runs in a 6-2 loss. A few years later, Witt came out of the bullpen to close out a no-hitter for Mark Langston.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1988

The left-handed Browning won 34 games for the Reds in 1985 and '86 before losing his effectiveness the following season. He got back on track in 1988, posting an 18-5 record with a 3.41 ERA. On June 6 of that year, he narrowly missed a no-hitter, shutting down the Padres for 8.1 innings before giving up a single to Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Three months later, Browning etched his name into the record books with a perfect game against the Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium. The game was interrupted by a two and a half hour rain delay. The Dodgers ended up winning the World Series that year. Browning ended up winning both of his next two starts, allowing just 3 runs in 16 innings. He broke his arm warming up before a game in 1994 and never successfully rehabbed. 

JULY 28, 1991

Nicknamed "El Presidente," Nicaraguan hurler Dennis Martinez was a fifteen-year veteran entering the 1991 campaign. On July 28, he became the first major leaguer born outside the United States to throw a perfect game. He used 95 pitches to mow down 27 Dodger hitters in a row, reaching a 3-ball count only once. Interestingly, the Dodgers hold the record for most perfect game losses with 3. Only the Rays have been victimized as many times. Martinez won an ERA title in 1991 with a 2.39 mark. He hung around the majors until he was forty-four years old, winning 245 games--among the top totals of the modern era. 

JULY 28, 1994 

Rogers posted a mediocre 4.46 ERA in 1994 and gave up more than a hit per inning. But during this particular outing at the Ballpark in Arlington, he was unhittable. The left-hander used 98 pitches and struck out 8 Angels batters. Rogers owed a debt of gratitude to center fielder Rusty Greer, who made an amazing diving catch on a hard liner off the bat of Rex Hudler in the ninth inning. Rogers was awful in his next two starts, yielding 12 runs in 10.1 innings. He lasted twenty seasons in the majors, pitching until he was forty-three years old.

MAY 17, 1998

Wells tarnished his perfect game after the fact by claiming he was "half drunk" when he threw it. Suffering from an alleged hangover, he retired all 27 Minnesota batters he faced, using 120 pitches while striking out 10. "It couldn't have happened to a crazier guy," he said after it was over. Comedian Billy Crystal, who was in attendance, walked into the Yankee clubhouse at the game's conclusion and said to Wells jokingly: "I just got here. What happened?" Wells was spectacular in pinstripes throughout his career, posting a 68-28 regular season record and a 7-2 postseason mark.

JULY 18, 1999

On a personal note, I remember this game vividly because a friend of mine offered me a ticket and I declined. Don Larsen--author of the only perfect game in World Series history--was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Cone was masterful against the Expos, using just 88 pitches and striking out 10. In his next start, Cone gave up 6 hits and walked 4 in four innings. He finished the season at 12-9 with an efficient 3.44 ERA. He followed with a dreadful a 4-14 mark the following year.      

Monday, November 14, 2016

My Latest Fiction Project: Scarecrow on the Marsh

Please forgive me for taking a brief diversion from baseball. I would like to share an article I wrote to promote my latest novel, a mystery/thriller entitled Scarecrow on the Marsh. This is a posthumous collaboration with my father, who passed away last March. He was able to complete a rough draft before he succumbed to Merkel Cell Cancer, a rare and insidious disease for which there is no cure. As he lay dying, I promised him I would complete the project and find a publisher. I am proud to say that I accomplished both tasks. All author royalties will be donated to the WGY Christmas Wish fund, which benefits sick and underprivileged children in the Capital Region of New York State. The charity drive is sponsored by 810 WGY--the radio station my father worked at for 30 years.


 Unless you’re an editor, it’s not very often that someone drops a partially completed manuscript in your lap and expects you to finish it. This is a daunting task for anyone, but when the project represents the lifelong dream of a deceased loved one, there’s even more pressure. That’s the situation I found myself in last year when I offered to complete my father’s novel.

            Don’t get me wrong—I’m not complaining. It was something I wanted to do. It was the least I could do for a man who had served a dual role as my mentor and best friend for most of my adult life. But I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
            I spent more than six months researching, editing and writing new chapters for Scarecrow on the Marsh. Every paragraph reminded me that my father was gone. Every addition or alteration invoked profound feelings of guilt and self doubt. There were countless tears. There were bouts of anger and frustration. And though it’s something I would never want to go through again, I feel that I have grown as a writer and a person.
            Basketball great Michael Jordan once said: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. When you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.” In the case of Scarecrow on the Marsh, there was a great deal of climbing and circumnavigating before the final draft was complete.  

Thoughts don’t always flow smoothly from brain to page. My Father felt that his ideas were more lucid when he wrote them longhand. The manuscript he left me was entirely handwritten. The margins were crowded with tiny notes. In some cases, there were notes about the notes. The pages were filled with scribbles, cross-outs and insertions. Some of the pages had subtitles—Page 157a, Page 157b and so on. Though I’m sure it all made perfect sense to my Dad, I found it puzzling at times.     

My father chose Cape Cod as a setting for his novel because he had been there many times and was intimately familiar with the place. I myself was not. For months, my desk was littered with street maps and travel brochures. I used Google Earth to examine the physical characteristics of various towns and beaches. Since a significant portion of the novel deals with terrorism, I had a lot to learn. I knew very little about the language, religious beliefs or customs of terrorists. I knew even less about how they go about blowing things up. I performed so many Google searches on the topic I actually became a little paranoid about drawing the attention of Homeland Security.         

Let’s face it—a rough draft is far from perfect.  This was my Dad’s first book so he was still finding his way as a writer. I had never worked on a mystery novel before, but I had read plenty and it definitely helped. My father’s premise was solid.  Unfortunately, there were elements of the story that didn’t quite work. I struggled to determine which passages needed to be omitted or rewritten. This was a grueling process that caused me immeasurable grief. At times, I felt as if I was betraying him. I wanted to keep his ideas intact. I wanted to make him proud. And though I managed to preserve every nuance of the story, the final product is drastically different from the original manuscript. I hope that’s okay with him.                  

Ask any writer and they will tell you that this is the most difficult part of the process. There are roughly 2 million books released every year. Most are self-published works that fail to sell more than fifty copies. I felt that my father’s work deserved a better fate. I could have published directly to Kindle, but I knew he would have preferred paperback over a digital format. There aren’t as many traditional publishers out there nowadays and, without a literary agent, most of the major publishing houses were closed to me. The submission process can be brutal. You wait months for a response and consider yourself lucky to even get a rejection letter. Due to the high volume of submissions, most publishers employ the “if you don’t hear from us in three to six months, we’re not interested” model. After shopping my father’s manuscript around to thirty different editors, I got a few bites. In the end, I opted for a Print-On-Demand format, which reduces publishing costs and allows authors a higher royalty rate.

For three decades, my father worked hard to raise money for the annual WGY Christmas Wish Campaign, which benefits a wide variety of causes in the Capital Region of New York State. I didn’t want to keep any of the profits from his book and figured that Christmas Wish would be an ideal fit. All author royalties will be donated to this year’s campaign. Won’t you please help me honor my father’s memory by picking up a copy of Scarecrow on the Marsh?    

Thursday, November 3, 2016

10 Interesting Facts About The Last Time The Cubs Won the World Series

It's been a long time since the Cubs called themselves champions of major league baseball. To illustrate just how long it's been, consider the following facts about the year 1908.

1. The Life expectancy was 47 years.

2. A majority of homes were without a telephone.

3. The speed limit in cities was 10 mph.

4. Workers were paid 22 cents per hour and the average annual salary was $300.

5. Doctors did not have to attend college to practice medicine.

6. Canada had a law on the books prohibiting poor people from entering the country.

7. The U.S. flag had only 45 stars.

8. Marijuana, heroin and morphine were available over the counter.

9. The murder rate was 230 for the entire U.S.

10. There were only 16 major league teams, eight of which would become defunct, move to other cities or change their names. 
ON A FINAL NOTE: The Cubs' World Series victory was forecast in an early scene from the movie Back to the Future II, which came out in 1989. The screenwriters were over-optimistic, however, predicting that Chicago would win in 2015. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

World Series MVP's Before the Award Existed (Concluded)

Finishing up my examination of World Series heroes from the distant past, here are my choices for MVP from 1931 up to the inception of the Award, which was first handed out by SPORT magazine in 1955.

1931 Cardinals over A's (4-3)
MVP Pepper Martin- CF 7G 5 R 12 H 4 2B 1 HR 5 RBI .500 BA

1932 Yankees over Cubs (4-0)
MVP Lou Gehrig- 1B 4 G 9 R 1 2B 3 HR 8 RBI .529 BA .600 OBP

1933 Giants over Senators (4-1)
MVP Carl Hubbell- Pitcher (2-0) 0.00 ERA 20.1 IP 13 H 24 SO 2 CG

1934 Carinals over Tiger (4-3)
MVP Joe Medwick- LF 7 G 4 R 11 H 1 3B 1 HR 5 RBI .379 BA

1935 Tigers Over Cubs (4-2)
MVP Charlie Gehringer 6 G 4 R 9 H 3 2B 4 RBI .375 BA

1936 Yankees over Giants (4-2)
 MVP Jake Powell- LF 6 G 8 R 10 H 1 2B 1 HR 5 RBI .455 BA .538 OBP

1937 Yankees over Giants (4-1)
MVP Lefty Gomez- Pitcher (2-0) 1.50 ERA 18 IP 16 H 8 SO 2 CG

1938 Yankees over Giants (4-1)
MVP Red Ruffing- Pitcher (2-0) 1.50 ERA 18 IP 16 H 8 SO 2 CG

1939 Yankees over Reds (4-1)
MVP Charlie Keller- RF 4 G 8 R 7 H 1 2B 1 3B 3 HR 6 RBI .438 BA

1940 Reds over Tigers (4-3)
MVP Bucky Walters- Pitcher (2-0) 1.50 ERA 18 IP 8 H 6 SO 2 CG

1941 Yankees over Dodgers (4-1)
MVP Joe Gordon- 2B 5 G 2 R 7 H 1 2B 1 3B 1 HR 5 RBI .500 BA .667 OBP

1942 Cardinals over Yankees (4-1)
MVP Johnny Beazley- Pitcher (2-0) 2.50 ERA 18 IP 17 H 6 SO 2 CG

1943 Yankees over Cardinals (4-1) 
MVP Spud Chandler- Pitcher (2-0) 0.50 ERA 18 IP 17 H 10 SO 2 CG

1944 Cardinals over Browns (4-2)
MVP George McQuinn (Browns)- 1B 6 G 2 R 7 H 2 2B 1 HR 5 RBI .438 BA

1945 Tigers over Cubs (4-3)
MVP Doc Cramer- CF 7 G 7 R 11 H 4 RBI .379 BA .419 OBP

1946 Cardinals over Red Sox (4-3)
MVP Harry Brecheen- Pitcher (3-0) 0.45 ERA 20 IP 14 H 11 SO 2 CG

1947 Yankees over Dodgers (4-3)
MVP Johnny Lindell- LF 6 G 3 R 9 H 3 2B 1 3B 7 RBI .500 BA .625 OBP

1948 Indians over Red Sox (4-2)
MVP Bob Lemon- Pitcher (2-0) 1.65 ERA 16.1 IP 1 H 6 SO 1 CG

1949 Yankees over Dodgers (4-1)
MVP Allie Reynolds- Pitcher (1-0) 0.00 ERA 12.1 IP 2 H 14 SO 1 CG 1 SV

1950 Yankees over Phillies
MVP Allie Reynolds- Pitcher (1-0) 0.87 ERA 10.1 IP 7 H 7 SO 1 CG 1 SV

1951 Yankees over Giants (4-2)
MVP Eddie Lopat- Pitcher (2-0) 0.50 ERA 18 IP 10 H 4 SO 2 CG

1952 Yankees over Dodgers (4-3)
MVP Mickey Mantle- CF 7 G 10 H 1 2B 1 3B 2 HR 8 RBI .500 BA

1953 Yankees over Dodgers (4-2)
MVP Billy Martin- 2B 6 G 5 R 12 H 1 2B 2 3B 2 HR 8 RBI .500 RBI

1954 Giants over Indians (4-0)
MVP Dusty Rhodes- OF/PH 3 G 2 R 4 H 2 HR 7 RBI .667 BA 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

World Series MVP's Before the Award Existed (Part I 1903-1930)

The first Word Series MVP Award was handed out in 1955 by SPORT Magazine. This means that more than fifty deserving candidates went unrecognized. Just for fun, I went back and chose Most Valuable Players from all of those long-forgotten Octobers 

1903 Boston Americans over Pittsburgh Pirates (5-3)
MVP Bill Dinneen- Pitcher (3-1) 2.06 ERA 35 IP 29 H 28 SO 4 CG

1905 Giants over A's (4-1)
MVP Christy Mathewson- Pitcher (3-0) 0.00ERA 27 IP 14 H 18 SO 3 CG

1906 White Sox over Cubs (4-2)
MVP George Rohe- 3B 6 G 2 R 7 H 1 2B 2 3B 4 RBI .333BA .440 OBP

1907 Cubs over Tigers (4-0)
MVP Harry Steinfeldt- 3B 5 G 2 R 8 H 1 2B 1 3B 2 RBI .471 BA .550 OBP

1908 Cubs over Tigers (4-1)
MVP Orval Overall- Pitcher 3 G (2-0) 0.98ERA 18.1 IP 7 H 15 SO 2 CG

1909 Pirates over Tigers (4-3)
 MVP Babe Adams- Pitcher (3-0) 1.33 ERA 27 IP 18H 11SO 3 CG

1910 A's over Cubs (4-1)
MVP Danny Murphy- RF 5 G 6 R 8 H 3 2B 1 HR 9 RBI .400 BA

1911 A's over Giants (4-2)
MVP Home Run Baker- 3B 6 G 7 R 9 H 2 2B 2 HR 5 RBI .375 BA

1912 Red Sox over Giants (4-3)
MVP Tris Speaker- CF 8 G 4 R 9 H 1 2B 2 3B 2 RBI .300 BA .382 OBP

1913 A's over Giants (4-1)
MVP Home Run Baker 5 G 2 R 9 H 1 HR 7 RBI .450 BA

1914 Braves over A's (4-0)
MVP Hank Gowdy- Cather 4 G 3 R 6 H 3 2B 1 3B 1 HR 3 RBI .545 BA

1915 Red Sox over Phillies (4-1)
MVP Duffy Lewis- LF 5 G 1 R 8 H 1 2B 1 HR 5 RBI .444 BA

1916 Red Sox over Brooklyn Robins (4-1)
 MVP Harry Hooper- RF 5 G 6 R 7 H 1 2B 1 3B 1 RBI .333 BA .417 OBP

1917 White Sox over Giants (4-2)
MVP Red Faber- Pitcher (3-1) 2.33 ERA 27 IP 21 H 9 SO 2 CG

1918 Red Sox over Cubs (4-2)
MVP Carl Mays- Pitcher 2-0 1.00 ERA 18 IP 10 H 5 SO 2 CG

1919 Reds over White Sox (SERIES FIXED)
MVP Joe Jackson (Chi)- LF 8 G 5 R 12 H 3 2B 1 HR 6 RBI .375 BA

1920 Indians over Brooklyn Robins (5-2)
MVP Stan Coveleski- Pitcher (3-0) 0.67 ERA 27 IP 15 H 8 SO 3 CG

 1921 Giants over Yankees (5-3)
MVP Irish Meusel- LF 8 G 4 R 10 H 2 2B 1 3B 1 HR 7 RBI .345 BA

1922 Giants over Yankees (4-0) 
MVP Heinie Groh- 3B 5 G 4 R 9 H .474 BA/ 6 Putouts 16 Assists 1.000 Fld %

1923 Yankees over Giants (4-2)
MVP  Babe Ruth- RF 6 G 8 R 7 H 1 2B 1 3B 3 HR 3 RBI .368 BA

1924 Senators over Giants (4-3)
MVP Goose Goslin- LF 7 G 4 R 11 H 1 2B 3 HR 7 RBI .344 BA

1925 Pirates over Senators (4-3)
MVP Max Carey- CF 7 G 6 R 11 H 4 2B 2 RBI 3 SB .458 BA .552 OBP

1926 Cardinals over Yankees (4-3)
MVP Pete Alexander- Pitcher (2-0) 1 SV 1.33 ERA 20.1 IP 12 H 17 SO

1927 Yankees over Pirates (4-0)
MVP Babe Ruth- RF 4 G 4 R 6 H 2 HR 7 RBI .400 BA .471 OBP

1928 Yankees over Cardinals (4-0)
MVP Babe Ruth- RF 4 G 9 R 10 H 3 2B 3 HR 4 RBI .625 BA

1929 A's over Cubs (4-1)
MVP Al Simmons- LF 5 G 6 R 6 H 1 2B 2 HR 5 RBI .300 BA

1930 A's over Cardinals (4-2)
MVP Al Simmons- LF 6 G 4 R 8 H 2 2B 2 HR 4 RBI .364 BA .417 OBP

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EPILOGUE TO PERFECTION: How Perfect Game Pitchers Fared After Their Moment of Glory (Part II: From the Lively Ball Era to the Expansion Era)

April 30, 1922

Robertson's perfect game was the defining moment of a mediocre career. Facing the Tigers at Detroit, he used 90 pitches to complete his masterpiece. Six of Detroit's eight starting players posted a .300 average in 1922. Two of the most formidable, Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann, combined for an 0-for-6 performance against Robertson that afternoon. Robertson worked with Hall of Fame catcher Ray Schalk that day. Before retiring the 27th batter of the game (pinch-hitter Johnny Bassler), the right-hander walked behind the mound and said to shortstop Eddie Mulligan: "Do you realize that little fat man up there is the only thing standing between me and a perfect game?" Too stunned to comment, Mulligan reportedly pushed Robertson back toward the mound. In his next three starts, Robertson gave up 11 runs in 22 innings. During his eight seasons in the majors, he never finished a season with a .500 record.

October 8, 1956

Larsen's perfect game is still the only one ever thrown during a World Series. It could not have happened on a grander stage as 64,000 fans streamed into Yankee Stadium that day to watch an epic showdown against the Dodgers. Larsen used 97 pitches and struck out 7. According to Yogi Berra, he didn't shake off a single sign all afternoon. The 2-0 win gave the Yankees a 3-2 Series lead. Larsen's opponents included Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges. Larsen, who led the AL with 21 losses for the Orioles in 1954, never started more than 20 games in a season while wearing a Yankee uniform. After his postseason perfecto, he didn't appear in a regular season game until April 20 of the following year. He was pulled from that game after facing five batters in the fifth inning and allowing 3 runs. His relief, Bob Turley, walked in another run. Larsen posted a 10-4 record in '57 with an unimpressive 3.74 ERA. He finished his career with a .471 winning percentage. Sportswriter Shirley Povich once remarked: "Don Larsen used to pitch so slow it ought to have been equipped with backup lights."   

June 21, 1964

Bunning was a Hall of Famer and seven-time All-Star who won at least 15 games on eight occasions. When he retired, he was second on the all time strikeout list behind Walter Johnson. Prior to his perfect game, he had tossed a no-hitter against the Red Sox in 1958. With Ted Williams and Jackie Jensen in the lineup, it was no ordinary feat. But Bunning's gem in '64 came practically gift-wrapped. After losing 231 games in '62 and '63, Casey Stengel's "Amazin' Mets" dropped 109 more games in '64. Six of the players Bunning faced that day were hitting below .230. In his next outing, Bunning gave up 11 hits and 4 runs to the Cardinals during a seven-inning stint. He followed with three quality starts, finishing the season at 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA. He averaged 17 wins per year between 1957 and 1967. After his retirement, he became the only major-leaguer ever elected to Congress.  

September 9, 1965

Most people have heard Koufax's story--how he overcame chronic wildness after catcher Norm Sherry suggested he loosen his grip on the ball during spring training of 1961. Entering that season, Koufax carried a sub-.500 lifetime won/loss record. Upon making the simple adjustment, he quickly became the most dominant pitcher in the game. Koufax threw four no-hitters during his career and his perfect game did not come on a silver platter. The Cubs had Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks in the lineup. The Dodgers had an anemic offense in '65, staking Koufax to two runs or less in 13 of his appearances. Koufax's perfect game set records for fewest hits (1) and baserunners (3) by both teams. The only Dodger run was unearned. When staff mate Don Drysdale (who was away from the team at the time) heard about Koufax's perfect game, he famously quipped "Who won?" In his next seven appearances, Koufax allowed just 7 earned runs in 45 innings. He was MVP of the '65 World Series against the Twins, winning two games while averaging close to 11 strikeouts per 9 innings. Painful arthritis forced him into early retirement after the '66 campaign. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

EPILOGUE TO PERFECTION: How Perfect Game Pitchers Fared After Their Moment of Glory (Part I: Deadball Era)


While playing for the Worcester Ruby Legs on June 12, 1880, left-hander Lee Richmond spun the first perfect game in baseball history. He accomplished the feat against the Cleveland Blues--a second place club. The ballpark at the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds is long gone, but a historical marker indicating the site of the game still stands. The match took less than 90 minutes to complete. Richmond had a distinct advantage in that the mound was located just 50 feet from home plate back then. His feat is somewhat remarkable considering that the gloves of the era were poorly designed and errors were quite common. The Ruby Legs got through the afternoon without a single miscue. 
The 1880 season was Richmond's finest. The perfect game was his third shutout in nine days and was included in a 42-inning scoreless streak. Four days after his perfecto, Richmond graduated from college. He eventually became a practicing physician. His 74 appearances in 1880 were tops in the NL. The heavy workload took its toll as Richmond lost his effectiveness and lasted just four more seasons in the majors. In 1882, he lost 33 games while posting a 3.74 ERA--horrendous for the era.   


Ward tossed his masterpiece just five days after Richmond. Facing the Buffalo Bisons at the Messer Street Grounds in Rhode Island, he got the best of opposing pitcher Pud Galvin--a Hall of Famer who won 40 games in a season twice during his career.  Ward was the ace of the Providence Grays staff in 1880 with 39 wins and a 1.74 ERA. Like Richmond, he benefited from the primitive conventions of the time. Eight "called balls" were required to earn a walk back then and the home team was sometimes determined by a coin toss. Ward made 70 appearances in 1880 and later crumbled under the strain. Reduced to 39 starts the following year, he doubled as an infielder until 1884. After that, he became a full time shortstop. In 1887, he led the NL with 111 stolen bases. He was a lifetime .275 hitter.


Young's perfect game on May 5, 1904 was the first to be thrown from a distance of 60 feet, six inches. Pitching for the Boston Americans that afternoon (later known as the Red Sox), he beat the Philadelphia A's--a team that featured three Hall of Famers on their pitching staff. Young squared off against eccentric left-hander Rube Waddell, facing the minimum 27 batters while striking out 8. The loud-mouthed Waddell had taunted Young before the game. When it was over, Young retorted with uncharacteristic brashness: "How do you like that one, you hayseed?" Young's perfect game was part of a 24-inning hitless streak and was included in a stretch of 45 consecutive scoreless frames. He had several more good seasons after 1904, retiring with 511 wins--an all time record. Including the perfect game, Young tossed three no-hitters during his illustrious career. 


On October 8, 1908, Joss tossed the second perfect game in American League history. The Cleveland ace opposed fellow Hall of Famer Ed Walsh of the White Sox that day. The game was tense, prompting one writer to remark in the exaggerated language of the day: "a mouse working his way along the grandstand floor would have sounded like a shovel scraping over concrete." Walsh was good that day, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, but Joss was even better, using 74 pitches to retire 27 men in order. Joss won 24 games in 1908 and led the AL with a 1.16 ERA. In 1910, he tore a ligament in his elbow. Still nursing a sore arm the following year, he feinted on the field before a spring training game. His personal physician diagnosed him with pleurisy, but the evaluation proved to be way off the mark as he died of tubercular meningitis less than two weeks later. Joss kept his ERA below the 2.00 mark in five of his nine major league seasons. He was elected to the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee in 1978.       


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Most Dominant World Series Pitching Performances (Part II)

1920 World Series

The 1920 Fall Classic pitted the Cleveland Indians against the Brooklyn Robins. The Series is best known for an unassisted triple play turned by Indians' second baseman Bill Wambsganss in Game 5--the only play of its kind in the postseason. The performance by Cleveland hurler Stan Coveleski has faded into the mists of time. There were no pitch counts in those days and hurlers were often scheduled to start on short rest. Coveleski made three starts in an eight-day span, winning all of them. He went the distance each time, allowing just 15 hits and 2 runs in 27 innings of work. There was no Series MVP award back then, but he would likely have won it. Among the last legal spitballers, Coveleski averaged 15 wins per year during his 14 major league seasons. He made it to the Hall of Fame in 1969.

1957 World Series

For one week in October of 1957, Burdette was on the same pedestal as his more heralded staff mate, Warren Spahn. The Braves entered the Series as heavy underdogs and emerged with a surprising seven-game victory over one of the most powerful Yankee squads of all time. Like Coveleski in 1920, Burdette made three starts in an eight-day span and won all of them. His opponents included World Series heroes Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Enos Slaughter. After allowing just 2 earned runs in Game 2, Burdette put the finishing touches on his career-defining performance by throwing two straight shutouts. He retired ten straight batters in Game 7, but nearly faltered at the end. With 2 outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, he induced a harmless grounder off the bat of Moose Skowron to end the Series. He was fittingly named MVP.

1965 World Series

Koufax, who was once referred to as "The Left Hand of God," was no stranger to dominant postseason performances. After losing to Koufax twice in the '63 World Series, Yankee catcher Yogi Berra said: "I can see how he won 25 games. What I don't understand is how he lost 5." Facing the Twins in the '65 Fall Classic, Koufax made waves by refusing to pitch the opener because it fell on Yom Kippur. Penciled in as a second game starter, he suffered a minor sixth inning meltdown and ended up being pulled (though only 1 of the 2 runs he gave up was earned). In Game 5, he was brilliant, scattering 4 hits and striking out 10 in a 7-0 win. With the Series knotted at three games apiece, he took the mound again and didn't disappoint. On three days rest, he tossed a 3-hit shutout. Koufax retired with a lifetime postseason ERA of 0.95.

1968 World Series

Lolich once described himself as "the beer drinker's idol" and this is the performance that put him on the map. The good-natured southpaw won 17 games during the so-called "Year of the Pitcher" then outperformed Cardinals' ace Bob Gibson in the '68 Series. The premier pitcher of the era, Gibson struck out 35 batters in three starts but it was Lolich who captured Series MVP honors with 3 victories and a 1.67 ERA. Lolich's strongest outing came in Game 7, when he allowed just 1 run on 5 hits. In his previous two starts, he struck out 17 batters. A perk of being named MVP, he was invited by Vice President Hubert Humphrey to watch the Apollo 8 liftoff at Cape Canaveral.

1991 World Series

The '91 Fall Classic between Minnesota and Atlanta is considered one of the greatest ever played. Five of the seven games were decided by a single run, four were won in the final at-bat and three stretched into extra innings. It was one of the most widely watched World Series with the second largest television audience in history. Morris was right in the thick of the excitement. "I knew everybody was watching," he said years later. "How much fun is that? I mean, I pitched games in Cleveland when there were 250 people in the stands and 200 of them were related to somebody on the field and the rest were only there for the beer...To be on the stage when the whole world is watching, if you don't relish that, you're in the wrong business." Morris fared extremely well against Atlanta's potent lineup, getting a win in Game 1 and a no-decision in Game 4 (while allowing just 1 run in 6 innings). In the deciding contest, he out-dueled John Smoltz for a 1-0 series-clinching victory. In that outing, he faced 38 batters over 10 frames while scattering 7 hits. The Twins have not won a World Series since.

2001 World Series

Among the tallest pitchers ever to take the mound at 6-foot 10, Johnson was fast enough and wild enough to scare batters. After winning 21 games and capturing an ERA title in 2001, he effectively derailed the New York Yankee offense in the World Series. The irascible left-hander tossed a 3-hit, complete game shutout in Game 1, striking out 11 batters. In Game 6 he was at it again, punching out 7 pinstriped opponents in a 7-inning stint that ended in a 15-2 Arizona blowout.  When the Series went to seven games, "The Big Unit" was called to the mound with two outs in the top of the eighth and the Yankees leading, 2-1. He retired each of the four batters he faced and picked up another win as the Diamondbacks staged a shocking comeback against Mariano Rivera. 

2014 World Series

In an era of pampered pitchers, Bumgarner's performance in the 2014 World Series was quite remarkable. After shutting down the Kansas City offense for 7 innings in Game 1, he went the distance in Game 5--allowing just 4-hits while striking out 8. And then, on short rest, he was called to the mound in the fifth inning of Game 7. 68 pitches later, he had preserved a Series victory for the Giants. He was truly deserving of the MVP trophy.             

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Most Dominant World Series Pitching Performances (Part I)

Game 5 1956 World Series

To date, Larsen's perfect game is still the only one in World Series history. Years after the fact, he remembered: "I was so happy, I felt like crying." In a comical understatement, an Associated Press writer asked him if it was the best game he ever pitched. He used 97 pitches to complete his masterpiece and issued three balls to just one Dodger hitter--Pee Wee Reese. Yogi Berra said that Larsen didn't shake off a single sign that day. Larsen's feat was especially impressive considering the batters he had to face. In addition to aforementioned Reese, he squared off against Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella. Interestingly, Larsen threw out the ceremonial first pitch before David Cone's perfect game forty-three years later.

Game 2 1916 World Series 

Some people forget that Ruth was a pitcher before he became an outfielder. After leading the Red Sox staff with 23 wins, he started Game 2 of the 1916 Fall Classic against the Brooklyn Robins. To accomodate more fans, the game was played at cavernous Braves Field in Boston. The deep dimensioins worked against Ruth in the first inning when Brooklyn's Hi Myers found a gap in deep right-center field, circling the bases with an inside-the-park homer. It was the only run Ruth allowed all afternoon. In the bottom of the third, he tied the game with an RBI ground out. He was still on the mound when the game meandered into the fourteenth inning. He faced 48 batters and allowed just 6 hits in a 2-1 Boston win. No pitcher has ever lasted that long in a single series game. The game itself was the longest in history until Game 3 of the 2005 Fall Classic. 

Game 1 1968 World Series

The fearsome Gibson was unapproachable even to teammates on the days he started and once referred to himself as "an asshole." He compiled a 7-2 lifetime record in postseason play with a 1.89 ERA. His finest single game effort came in Game 1 of the '68 Fall Classic, when he struck out 17 Tiger batters--an all time record. Interestingly, 3 of the 5 hits he allowed that day came off the bats of infielders Don Wert and Mickey Stanley, who had combined for a .230 average during the regular season. Gibson completed a shutout and went on the win Game 4 by a score of 10-1. The Tigers finally tagged him for 4 runs in Game 7, winning the Series over the Cardinals. 

Game 6 1926 World Series

Alexander's performance in Game 7 of the '26 Fall Classic gained lasting acclaim. With the Series tied at 3 games apiece and the Cardinals clinging to a 3-2 seventh inning lead over the Yankees, St. Louis player/manager Rogers Hornsby summoned Alexander to replace Hall of Famer Jesse Haines, who had developed a blister on his pitching hand. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Alexander struck out the dangerous Tony Lazzeri to end the threat. He held the Bombers scoreless in the eighth and ninth as well, clinching a Series victory for the Cardinals. But "Old Pete's" performance the day before was even better. With the Cardinals on the brink of elimination, he went the distance in a 10-2 win. What made his appearance especially notable (aside from the fact that he was facing one of the greatest teams of all time) was his age. At 39 years, 7 months, he became the older pitcher in Series history to throw a complete game. 

1905 World Series

It's hard to determine which game of the '05 Fall Classic Christy Mathewson was most dominant in. Mathewson, who was the face of the Giants franchise in those days, had captured a triple crown (the first of two) during the regular season. His performance in the Series is considered by many to be the greatest of all time. After refusing to face Boston in the 1904 postseason, Giants owner John T. Brush worked out his differences with rival American League magnates. The '05 Fall Classic--just the second official World Series in history--pitted Brush's Giants against Connie Mack's A's. Mathewson disposed of his Philadelphia opponents with uniform precision. In Games 1 and 3, he tossed a pair of 4-hitters while striking out 14 batters. In the fifth game, he clinched the Series for New York with another shutout--this one a five-hitter. By the time the A's scored off Mathewson in Game 1 of the 1911 World Series, he had completed 28.1 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason--a record later broken by Babe Ruth and Whitey Ford.     


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Baseball's 40/40 Club

Only four players have ever hit 40 homers while stealing 40 bases in the same season. Remarkably, none of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Though Canseco became a pariah in later years, he left a lasting impression on the sport in 1988 when he clubbed a league-leading 42 homers and swiped 40 bags for the A's. His 40th homer came on September 18 while facing Bret Saberhagen of the Royals. He recorded his 40th stolen base five days later against the Brewers at County Stadium in Milwaukee. When Mickey Mantle learned of Canseco's feat, he commented: "Hell--If I'd known 40-40 was going to be a big deal, I'd have done it every year." Mantle collected 40 or more homers four times and finished in double digits for stolen bases in six consecutive seasons. His lifetime success rate as a base-stealer was 80 percent compared to Canseco's 69 percent. Canseco vastly overestimated his own running abilities. In his 2005 tell-all book, Juiced, he claimed to have run a 40-yard dash in 3.9 seconds. For the record, no athlete in any of the four major sports has ever recorded a time that fast.  

The first National League member of the 40/40 club, Bonds accomplished the feat before he was linked to steroids, which makes 1996 the most remarkable season of his career in some respects. His 40th homer came on September 16 off of Padres right-hander Scott Sanders. His 40th steal came more than a week later in a game at Coors Field. Though he ended up winning seven MVP awards, he finished fifth in MVP voting during the '96 slate in spite of his league-leading 129 RBIs and lofty .461 on-base percentage. That same season, he became the fourth member of baseball's 300-300 club, joining his father (Bobby) along with Willie Mays and Andre Dawson. 

A-Rod's big moment came on September 19, 1998, when he blasted a solo homer (his 40th of the season) off of aging Angels right-hander Jack McDowell. His 40th stolen base had come two weeks earlier in a game against the Orioles. An indication that the feat was little more than a bucket list item for A-Rod, he never stole more than 28 bases in a season during his remaining seventeen years in the majors. In fact, his 46 steals in '98 represented fourteen percent of his lifetime totals. On the other hand, the homers kept piling up for A-Rod over the years. He reached the 50 homer plateau three times and retired with 696 long balls--currently fourth on the all time list behind Aaron, Ruth and fellow steroid user Barry Bonds. 

Perhaps the most unlikely member of the 40/40 club, Soriano had narrowly missed in 2002 with the Yankees, gathering 41 steals and 39 homers. He eventually broke through in 2006 while playing for the Washington Nationals. When he clubbed his 40th homer that year, he was 10 stolen bases short of inclusion. After swiping his 40th bag on September 17, he was somewhat surprised himself, commenting: "That's very amazing for me because there's a lot of players that can play this game. That's an amazing number." Over the next eight seasons, Soriano reached the 30 homer threshold twice, peaking at 34. His highest stolen base total in that same span was 19. An enduring claim to fame, he is currently the only steroid-free 40-40 man.   

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Greatest Japanese Exports (Part II--Pitchers)


Nicknamed "The Tornado," Nomo is the leader among Japanese pitchers in wins, strikeouts, shutouts and complete games. He was a major star with the Kintetsu Buffaloes before exploiting a loophole in his contract and defecting to the majors. He became immensely popular in his '95 Los Angeles debut, capturing Rookie of the Year honors with a 13-6 record and a league-leading 236 strikeouts. His windup included a series of quirky stops and starts that resembled stretching exercises. The right-handed Nomo won 123 games for seven teams during his career, which spanned portions of twelve seasons. He is one of a handful of pitchers to toss multiple no-hitters. They were the only no-hitters thrown at Coors Field and Camden Yards. Nomo has been widely credited for opening the door for dozens of Japanese players who followed.


Saito has the lowest ERA among Japanese pitchers with at least 100 appearances. He enjoyed his peak seasons with the Dodgers between 2006 and 2008, when he saved 81 games and averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Had he not been thirty-six years old when he arrived in the majors, he might have had a longer, more fruitful career. His finest season came in 2007, when he posted a 1.40 ERA while allowing just 33 hits in 64.1 innings primarily as a closer. He picked up a career-high 39 saves and made the NL All-Star team. After falling from the major league ranks at the age of forty-two, he returned to Japan, where he had two more decent seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.


The right-handed Kuroda established himself as one of Japan's best pitchers before he signed with the Dodgers prior to the 2008 campaign. A frequent victim of poor run support, he spent four seasons in Los Angeles and compiled a 41-46 record despite a cumulative ERA of 3.45. In 2011, he posted the best mark of his career at 3.07, but ended up losing 16 games. Traded to the Yankees in 2012, he spent the final three seasons of his big league career in the Bronx--going 38-33. Kuroda appeared in five postseason series with New York. Four of his five outings were quality starts. With a highly effective splitter and sinker, he induced a lot of ground ball outs during his career. In 2015, he returned to Japan for one more season with the team he had left--the Hiroshima Carp.


Sasaki is the all-time leader in saves and closing appearances among Japanese-born players. His nickname "Daimajin," was derived from a series of 1960s movies in which a giant statue bearing that name repeatedly saves a village in response to the prayers of inhabitants. Injured often during his career, Sasaki picked up 252 saves in Nippon pro baseball and 129 more in major league play. His brief big league career lasted just four seasons and ended in 2004, when he decided to stay in Japan. He was Rookie of the Year in 2000 and an All-Star in the next two campaigns.


Nicknamed "Shiggy," Hasegwa spent five seasons with the Angels and four more with Seattle. He served in nearly every capacity during his career--as a spot starter, middle reliever, closer and set-up man. He had compiled a cumulative 30-27 record in the majors before injuring his rotator cuff in 2001. He bounced right back with Seattle in 2002 then posted a career-best 1.48 ERA the following year, earning his only All-Star selection. His appearance in the Midsummer Classic was a disaster as he was charged with 4 runs and a blown save. To date, no Japanese pitcher has matched Hasegawa's total of 517 appearances.

Matsuzaka was one of the most acclaimed players in Japan. Before the 2007 season, several major league teams engaged in a bidding war for his services. In the end, the Red Sox won out with a $51.1 million offer. Matsuzaka got off to a strong start in his major league debut with a 15-12 record. He went 2-1 in the postseason, helping the Red Sox win the World Series. In 2008, Matsuzaka enjoyed his finest campaign, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. His won-loss percentage was second to Cliff Lee of the Indians. Only two AL pitchers posted a lower ERA that year as Matsuzaka placed fourth in Cy Young voting. The rest of his career was marred by injuries and ineffectiveness. The Red Sox finally gave up on him in 2012, when he went 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA. He finished his big league career in the Mets bullpen.


There are at least five active Japanese pitchers who are making a name for themselves in the majors. Since the Major League season is much longer, most of them are beginning to show signs of wear. Rangers' right-hander Yu Darvish was off to a 39-25 start in his career before injuries shut him down for the entire 2015 campaign. He has made just 11 appearances so far in 2016. Highly priced Yankee hurler Masahiro Tanaka had a lifetime record of 36-16 at the time of this writing, but has been struck by injuries multiple times. Dodger rookie Kenta Maeda is 13-7 so far this year with a 3.37 ERA for the Dodgers. To preserve his effectiveness, manager Dave Roberts has given him additional rest between starts on several occasions. Koji Uehara--a right-handed reliever--is serving in his eighth major league season. Uehara was 4-1 with a 1.09 ERA in 73 appearances during the 2013 slate. The forty-one year old hurler averages close to 11 strikeouts per 9 innings and is currently second among Japanese-born players in saves. Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners, currently in his fifth season, is poised to win 15 games for the second time in his career. He is on a short list of Japanese hurlers to toss more than 200 innings in a single campaign.