Tony Gwynn, Ivan Rodriguez

Tony Gwynn’s Hall of Fame career, by the numbers

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One of the greatest hitters for average the game has ever seen, Tony Gwynn spent his entire 20-year big-league career with the Padres before retiring in 2001. Here’s a look at some of his career highlights, by the numbers:

– Eight batting titles, tied for second most in major league history with Honus Wagner (Ty Cobb had 11). He’s the only player to win four in a row (1994-97) since Rogers Hornsby won six straight from 1920-25.

– Excluding his 54-game rookie season in 1982, he hit better than .309 every year of his career, topping out at .394 in 110 games in the strike year of 1994 (one of his few completely healthy seasons in the second half of his career, he missed just one of the Padres’ 111 games that season and was in position to make a run at a .400 campaign).

– Finished his career with 3,141 hits, putting him in 19th place all-time.

– His .338 average is the fourth highest among players with 3,000 hits, trailing Cobb (.366), Tris Speaker (.345) and Nap Lajoie (who edged Gwynn .33820 to .33818).

[MORE: What they’re saying about Tony Gwynn]

– Since the beginning of the expansion era in 1961, his .338 average is easily the highest among all players with 2,000 hits. The next highest averages are the .328 marks of Wade Boggs and Rod Carew.

– Struck out just 434 times in 10,232 plate appearances. It’s the lowest total of anyone with at least 2,000 hits since the beginning of the expansion era.

– Never struck out more than 40 times in a season. In 1995, he fanned a total of 15 times in 577 plate appearances.

– 15 All-Star Games, including 11 voted in as a starter. Only nine players had more All-Star seasons. For players who debuted after 1970, Gwynn is tied for second with Ozzie Smith behind Cal Ripken Jr.’s 19 appearances.

– First in the National League in WAR in 1987 and also first among position players in 1986.

[MORE: Gwynn was one of the game’s most-loved players]

– Led the NL in hits seven times.

– Finished in the top 10 in the NL in OBP 10 times, leading the league in 1994, and finished in the top 10 in slugging twice (10th in 1994, ninth in 1997).

– Even including his partial seasons at the beginning and end of his career, his worst ever OPS+ was a 105. He was never anything less than an above average hitter.

– Seven Silver Sluggers

– Five Gold Gloves

– Stole as many as 56 bases in a season, topping 30 four times. Ended his career with 319 steals in 444 attempts.

– Hit .415 with no strikeouts in 94 at-bats against Greg Maddux and .444 with one strikeout in 72 at-bats against John Smoltz. The only pitcher to strike him out more than six times was Nolan Ryan, and he still hit .302 (with nine strikeouts) in 63 at-bats against him.

– Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007 with the seventh highest percentage of the vote ever, a cool 97.6.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.