When an outfielder played shortstop in the World Series

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My friend Rob Neyer has a good story up over at The National Pastime Museum today. It’s about how, in 1968, the Detroit Tigers used an outfielder who had never played a single moment at shortstop as a professional as their starting shortstop in the god dang World Series.

That man was Mickey Stanley. The manager who put him at short was Mayo Smith. And, of course, the Tigers won that World Series. As Rob explains, however, the decision was not made as impulsively as quick-and-dirty summaries of the 1968 World Series often suggest. Go check out his story to see why this strange set of events was put into play and just how Smith did it.

The Mickey Stanley-at-shortstop story was like a minor religious parable when I was growing up in Michigan and following the Tigers in the late 70s and early 80s. When 1968 came up, people who remembered it talked about Mickey Lolich’s World Series heroics first, Denny McCain’s 31-win regular season second and Mickey Stanley at short third. Indeed, I think it messed up a whole generation of Tigers fans, making them think you could just plug any old player in at any position and it’d just work.

That usually doesn’t happen, but it worked at least once.

Kenley Jansen’s consecutive saves streak ends at 34

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game against the Braves, blowing his first save since August 26 last season. He had converted 34 consecutive saves.

Jansen yielded back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, staked to a 4-1 lead. After getting two outs, Matt Adams hit a three-run home run down the right field line to knot the game at four apiece.

After Sunday’s lackluster performance, Jansen is now 24-for-25 in save chances this season with a 1.49 ERA and a 62/2 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings.

Zach Britton sets American League record with 55th consecutive save

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Orioles closer Zach Britton finished Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Astros with a scoreless ninth inning, earning his sixth save of the season. He has now earned the save in 55 consecutive opportunities dating back to September 2015, setting a new American League record. Tom Gordon previously held the record with 54 consecutive saves. Eric Gagne holds the major league record at 84.

Britton’s last blown save came on September 20, 2015, then converted two more saves before the end of the regular season. He went 47-for-47 in save chances last season and is six-for-six so far this year.

Along with his six saves, Britton has a 2.65 ERA and a 13/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season. The lefty came off the disabled list earlier this month after missing two months with a strained left forearm.