Yesterday afternoon an hour-plus rain delay in the eighth inning meant Twins right-hander Phil Hughes finished his final start of the season one out short of reaching 210 innings to receive a $500,000 bonus.
It was terrible timing, as the rain started pouring in Minnesota just as Hughes was cruising through his eighth inning of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks. He was in total control, with a low pitch count, and definitely would have pitched the ninth inning.
Today the Twins offered Hughes a chance to make a brief relief appearance over the weekend in order to reach the magic 210-inning mark. He turned that down and also said he wouldn’t have been interested in simply being given the $500,000 bonus.
On one hand Hughes has earned more than $8 million this season and by the time his three-year contract is over he’ll have made around $40 million for his career, so $500,000 is not to the same to him as most people. On the other hand, if not for the rain delay he’d definitely have earned the $500,000 bonus, a half-million bucks is still a half-million bucks, and in setting the all-time strikeout-to-walk ratio record this season he’s been worth several times his salary to the Twins.
Good on the Twins for offering, at least. Perhaps a $500,000 donation to charity in Hughes’ name would put a nice little bow on the story as a compromise?
Josh Willingham, who has struggled with injuries while seeing his production plummet during the past two seasons, is “100 percent retiring” after the season according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Berardino covered Willingham in Minnesota before he was traded to Kansas City, and between the two stops the 35-year-old outfielder has hit .218 with 14 homers and a .750 OPS in 91 games.
Willingham can still smack the occasional homer and draw walks, but he has a .212 batting average dating back to last season and has gone from terrible to totally immobile in left field. He’d fit somewhere as a part-time designated hitter, but apparently Willingham would rather call it quits after 11 seasons, 195 homers, and $35 million in earnings.
Willingham posted an OPS above .800 every season from 2006 to 2012, the last of which was a career-year with the Twins hitting .260 with 35 homers and an .890 OPS in 145 games.
I wrote earlier about how Giants manager Bruce Bochy thinks Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw should win the MVP award in addition to the Cy Young award.
Bob Gibson is the last NL pitcher to win the MVP, in 1968 when he threw 305 innings with a 1.12 ERA in a ridiculously amazing season. I was poking around Baseball-Reference.com marveling at Gibson’s incredible game logs when I stumbled across the MVP voting totals from that season.
There were 20 voters that year and six of them gave their first-place vote to Pete Rose, who ranked third among NL hitters with an .861 OPS and ranked 14th in the league in Wins Above Replacement with 5.5. Gibson, in addition to throwing 305 innings with the best ERA in modern baseball history, had 11.8 Wins Above Replacement to more than double Rose’s total.
Regardless of what happens to Kershaw in the voting, we’ve thankfully come a long way in terms of viewing pitchers as viable MVP candidates (even if it’s too late for a 1999 do-over for Pedro Martinez).
Anthony DiComo of MLB.com wrote an article about how the Mets can become the first NL team in 15 years to go an entire season without issuing a single balk.
This afternoon during the Mets-Nationals game he decided to tweet out a link to the article, at which point Mets pitcher Dillon Gee immediately balked.
DiComo’s reaction was pretty funny:
Seriously, two minutes later.
Yasiel Puig so often becomes a storyline–for better or worse–that it’s sometimes tough to focus on strictly his performance for the Dodgers on the field.
Since debuting as a 22-year-old in June of last season Puig has played 249 games and hit .306 with a .387 on-base percentage and .504 slugging percentage.
Among all MLB players with at least 1,000 plate appearances since the beginning of last season Puig ranks eighth in batting average, eighth in on-base percentage, 11th in slugging percentage, and ninth in OPS.
And he’s done that in a pitcher-friendly environment, which is why his adjusted OPS+ ranks fifth during that span behind only Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, and Paul Goldschmidt. In other words: He’s been one of the half-dozen best hitters in all of baseball since debuting.
But wait, it gets even more impressive. Here’s a list of the top adjusted OPS+ totals since 1950 by outfielders with at least 1,000 plate appearances through age 23:
Mike Trout 167
Albert Pujols 161
Reggie Jackson 156
Mickey Mantle 155
Yasiel Puig 152
Ken Griffey Jr. 146
Willie Mays 146
Hank Aaron 143
Miguel Cabrera 141
Lists don’t get a whole lot more impressive. Puig has been one of the half-dozen best-hitting young outfielders since 1950, alongside a bunch of inner-circle Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers.
Puig is a helluva lot of fun to watch and lord knows he makes for easy sportswriter outrage, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that he’s really, really good.