Pace Car: Pujols, Teixeira, Lincecum, and others chase history, Gehrig, and burgers

Leave a comment

Plenty has been written and said about the season that Albert Pujols is having, but this nugget might be my favorite: he’s on pace for 60 HR and only 64 K. Incredible. In similar fashion, Roger Maris
only struck out 67 times during his 61-homer season in ’61. Others have
actually finished with more homers than strikeouts, notably Lou Gehrig (twice in three years: 49 HR, 31 K in 1934 and 49 HR, 46 K in 1936). Joe DiMaggio did it seven times in his career, with the craziest one coming in 1941, when he hit 30 bombs and struck out only 13(!) times.

Speaking of Yankees, Mark Teixeira is on his way to 41 HR and 43 doubles. He would become only the 34th player to have a 40-40 year (he also did it back in 2005), and the first Yankee since Gehrig (did it 3 times) in 1934.

Interestingly, the feat was accomplished 11 times from 1921 through 1940, and then didn’t happen again until Willie Stargell in 1973. Then there was another long drought until Albert Belle’s historic 50-50 season in 1995. Since Belle, 20 players have done the 40-40 thing, most recently Alfonso Soriano,
who actually reached the 40-40-40 club (41 steals to go with 46 HR and
41 doubles). Ironically, Soriano’s .911 OPS was the lowest of anyone in
this group.

(And for those wondering, Pujols is only on pace for 39 doubles).

As we pointed out in The Show this week (see below), Mark Reynolds
is in the middle of one of the most dynamic seasons ever. At this rate,
Reynolds will finish with 31 doubles, 44 homers, 113 RBI, 27 steals,
100 runs, 224 strikeouts (easily a MLB record), and 27 errors. THAT is
the definition of filling up the scoresheet.

In less spectacular fashion, Bobby Abreu has an
outside shot at putting up 100 in runs (on pace for 91), RBI (110), BB
(97), K (103), and In & Out Burgers (quantity unknown).

After fanning 10 more batters Friday night, Tim Lincecum is
on track for 289 strikeouts this year. So he’ll need to pick it up over
his last 15 or so starts to be the first guy to 300 since Randy Johnson in 2002.

Last year, Pedro Feliciano set a Mets record
with 86 appearances. He’s on pace for 90 this year, which would tie him
for sixth all-time (and the most by a lefty). The record is 104
appearances by Mike Marshall in 1974. Marshall also had three seasons of 90+ games.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

David Maxwell/Getty Images
1 Comment

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
1 Comment

Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.