With rosters expanding yesterday the Rays called up speedster Desmond Jennings from Triple-A and started him in right field. They also had Carl Crawford in left field and B.J. Upton in center field, which has me wondering whether it could have been the fastest outfield in baseball history.
I’m not sure exactly how to measure such a thing, but I do know that it’d be tough to find three players with more collective speed than Crawford, Upton, and Jennings, let alone three speedier guys who all started together in the same outfield.
Crawford has the most triples (100) and second-most steals (403) in MLB since debuting in 2002, averaging 12 three-baggers and 50 stolen bases per 150 games while also ranking as one of the best defensive left fielders of all time. Upton is a very good defensive center fielder and has the sixth-most steals in baseball since becoming a regular in 2007, swiping 44 bases in 2008, 42 last season, and 37 so far this year. And Jennings might be faster than both of them, averaging 61 steals per 150 games in the minors.
They all have 50-steal speed, they all would be plus center fielders, and they were all in the same outfield last night in Tampa Bay. And they even have a good nickname, as Rays fans have taken to calling Crawford, Upton, and Jennings the “Stallionaires.”
I went to Baseball-Reference.com in search of some other incredibly speedy outfield trios and found that since 1920 just six teams have had three outfielders with 30 or more steals. Obviously that isn’t the definitive word on speedy trios, since Jennings and other call-ups like him wouldn’t crack the list and neither would part-time outfielders, but it does provide a good starting point for the discussion.
Here are the six 30-steal outfield trios:
YEAR TEAM OUTFIELDERS
2001 Mariners Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron, Mark McLemore
1990 White Sox Lance Johnson, Sammy Sosa, Ivan Calderon
1988 Astros Kevin Bass, Billy Hatcher, Gerald Young
1985 Cardinals Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Andy Van Slyke
1983 Braves Brett Butler, Claudell Washington, Dale Murphy
1983 Cardinals Willie McGee, David Green, Lonnie Smith
Lots of “speediest outfield of all time” possibilities there, for sure, but I really think there’s a decent chance the 14,859 fans at Tropicana Field last night may have seen some history made. Aside from the six outfield trios listed above, what are some other contenders for the title? Remember, the speedsters only need to have played in the same outfield for a single game to qualify.
Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.
deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.
In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.
Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.
deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.
Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.
Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.