The sad news of Darren Daulton’s brain cancer diagnosis inspired the Philadelphia Inquirer to conduct a research project — reviewed by a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist — into incidents of brain cancer among Phillies players and coaches who spent time in Veteran’s Stadium. The results suggest an elevated risk of brain cancer among those who plied their trade at the Vet, with Daulton, Tug McGraw, John Vukovich and Johnny Oates all being stricken.
That’s just four, but as the Inquirer’s story explains, it is a rate 3.1 times higher than in the general population. The story and the epidemiologist note that, obviously, we’re dealing with small sample sizes and the results could be a matter of chance, but it is both an interesting and potentially worrisome statistical observation.
And not necessarily a new observation. You may recall that, two years ago, friend of HBT and former Royals pitcher Bob Tufts raised this question regarding players from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Tufts himself is a cancer survivor and several other Royals including Paul Splittoroff, Dick Howser and Dan Quisenberry died from various forms of cancer after spending time in K.C.
At the time, Tufts — while acknowledging that this is anecdotal information, not anything like a scientific study — suggested that the MLBPA and Major League Baseball study cancer rates and types among former major leaguers. While the Inquirer study itself isn’t more than a statistical observation itself, it’s not a bad suggestion that someone do something more.
Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners and the Marlins are “fairly close” on a trade that would send reliever David Phelps to Seattle. Earlier Ken Rosenthal and others reported that the sides were talking, but that a deal was not imminent.
Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. Basically everything you want in a reliever, right?
The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation.
Corey Sager homered in the Dodgers’ win over the White Sox last night. It was his 45th career homer, 44 of which have come while playing shortstop. While that’s great given that the guy has only played in 270 games, it’s not a lot of homers in an absolute sense. Thousands of players have more homers than that, obviously. Baseball has been around for a long time!
But it’s enough to set a record. A Los Angeles Dodgers record, specifically, for the most homers from a shortstop. It puts Seager past Rafael Furcal, who hit 43 while wearing Dodger blue. The record for the franchise, including Brooklyn, is Pee Wee Reese, who hit 122.
It seems astounding that no other Dodgers shortstop has hit more than 44 homers in the nearly 60 years since the club has been in Los Angeles, but it’s true. If you had asked me before I saw the factoid mentioned on Twitter I would’ve bet my life that Bill Russell would’ve had more. Not because he had any power — he was, in fact, one of the more punchless players of his era — but because he simply played in L.A. so long, logging 1,746 games at short for Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda. Nope. He only hit 46 in his 18-year career, with a handful of those coming as an outfielder. His season high is seven. Seager has hit seven homers in May of his rookie season.
Oh well, you learn something new every day.