Russell Branyan's 20th homer yet another solo shot

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All-or-nothing slugger Russell Branyan hit his 20th homer Wednesday off Josh Beckett, but it came in a losing cause as the Red Sox topped the Mariners 5-3. It was his 12th solo homer of the year, and he has just 45 RBI.
Of course, the Mariners aren’t putting a ton of guys on base for Branyan. But the modest RBI totals are typical for the 34-year-old. In 2009, Branyan had 31 homers and 76 RBI in 431 at-bats for the Mariners. In 2008, he somehow drove in just 20 runs while hitting 12 homers in 132 at-bats for the Brewers.
Branyan is one of four players in baseball history to average less than 2.5 RBI per home run over a career of at least 1,000 plate appearances. You might be able to guess two of the others:
Russell Branyan – 184 HR, 441 RBI – 2.40 RBI/HR
Mark McGwire – 583 HR, 1,414 RBI – 2.43 RBI/HR
Adam Dunn – 347 HR, 855 RBI – 2.46 RBI/HR
Bill Schroeder – 61 HR, 152 RBI – 2.49 RBI/HR
Ken Phelps – 123 HR, 313 RBI – 2.54 RBI/HR
Branyan is also the all-time leader in homers for players with fewer than 500 RBI:
1. Russell Branyan – 184 HR, 441 RBI
2. Steve Balboni – 181 HR, 495 RBI
3. Ron Kittle – 176 HR, 460 RBI
4. Nick Swisher – 155 HR, 476 RBI
5. Chris Hoiles – 151 HR, 449 RBI
6. Cory Snyder – 149 HR, 488 RBI
6. Dan Uggla – 149 HR, 440 RBI
8. Bo Jackson – 141 HR, 415 RBI
8. John Jaha – 141 HR, 490 RBI
8. Ty Wigginton – 141 HR, 488 RBI
None of that makes Branyan a bad player. But he is unique. Throw strikeouts into the mix, and I’m guessing one could use Baseball-Reference’s play index to create dozens of leaderboards on which he’s an all-time leader.

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.