Mark Mulder announced his retirement earlier this week without much fanfare, making official what has been assumed since he sat out all of last season following disastrous stints with the Cardinals in 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Mulder won 16 games with a 3.64 ERA as a 27-year-old in 2005, but then injuries hit and he won just six more games while posting a 7.73 ERA in 106 innings and was finished at age 30.
Because of how poorly and prematurely Mulder’s career ended it’s easy to forget just how good he was before all the health problems. Looking at all left-handed pitchers since the mound was lowered in 1969, he ranks tied for sixth with 97 wins through the age of 27:
THROUGH AGE 27 W
Vida Blue 124
F. Valenzuela 118
CC Sabathia 117
Don Gullet 109
Frank Tanana 106
MARK MULDER 97
Mark Buehrle 97
Tom Glavine 95
Jerry Reuss 95
Ross Grimsley 87
Interestingly, his former “Big Three” rotation-mate Barry Zito ranks 11th with 85 wins through age 27.
Decades from now when people stumble across Mulder’s stats and see just 103 wins they probably won’t give him much thought, but he was one of the most successful early career lefties in baseball history and would probably be a 31-year-old with around 175 wins right now if not for the injuries.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.
The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.