Major League Baseball has announced its players, pitchers and rookies of the month for April. So, as has become custom at HBT, we’ll do a post on it, only to not be as interested in following through on it for May through September. As it is:
Players of the month: Nelson Cruz and Adrian Gonzalez
Cruz batted .322 (28-for-87) with three doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 22 RBI, and 14 runs scored in 22 games. Gonzalez led the majors in slugging (.790) and was the NL leader in home runs (8). He featured a .383 batting average, hit nine doubles, drove in 19 RBI and had .432 on-base percentage.
Pitchers of the month: Dallas Keuchel and Gerrit Cole
Keuchel had a 3-0 record with a 0.73 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 37.0 innings. Cole was 4-0 in five starts with a 1.76 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 30.2 innings of work.
Rookies of the month: Devon Travis and Alex Guerrero
Travis batted .325 (26-for-80) with six home runs, 19 RBI, 17 runs scored and six doubles. Guerrero, who doesn’t even really have a regular position, hit .423 (11-for-26) with a 1.077 slugging percentage, hit five homers and drove in 13.
Daniel Norris won a spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation this spring, posted a 3.86 ERA through five starts, and is now headed back to the minors.
Toronto has demoted the 22-year-old left-hander to Triple-A despite his having the only sub-4.00 ERA among the team’s five starters in order to call up soft-tossing 29-year-old Andrew Albers. Marco Estrada, not Albers, will replace Norris in the rotation.
Norris was hardly dominant with an 18/12 K/BB ratio in 23 innings, but it’s still an odd move for a team that went very heavy on young pitching to begin the season and is now apparently having some second thoughts.
Carlos Quentin, who’s been playing at Triple-A for the Mariners after being released by the Braves last month, has decided to retire at age 32.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Quentin left the Tacoma team Thursday after going 3-for-17 in five games.
Atlanta acquired Quentin from San Diego as part of the Craig Kimbrel trade, but his inclusion was strictly to help balance out the money and the Braves ate his entire $8 million salary in releasing him.
Quentin retires as a career .252 hitter whose power, plate discipline, and ability to get plunked by tons of pitches helped him post a strong .831 OPS. When healthy he was a middle-of-the-order asset, posting an OPS above .800 in six of his nine seasons, but constant injuries limited him to fewer than 130 games in all but two of those years.
Quentin made two All-Star teams, earned more than $50 million, and among all active right-handed hitters with at least 3,000 plate appearances his .831 OPS ranks 17th sandwiched between Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Upton.
On May 1, 1991 — 24-years-ago today — Rickey Henderson passed Lou Brock for the all-time stolen base record.
Records are broken all the time, but any stolen base record is a little different in practice, at that particular moment. The stolen base requires the element of surprise, you see, so when someone is at a milestone moment in stolen bases you know damn well he’s got a bit of an extra incentive to go. You know it’s coming and he knows you know it’s coming, yet you play that game anyway.
Such was the case with Rickey Henderson on that day in 1991, as this video of the event shows. Yet, despite the fact that everyone knew Rickey was going, he still got a huge jump and it wasn’t even close:
Fun fact about Rickey and stolen bases: he stole 467 bases AFTER breaking Lou Brock’s record. If you just took his post-record stolen bases, he’d rank 46th on the all-time list, ahead of guys like Bobby Bonds, Ichiro, Jose Reyes, Carl Crawford and Roberto Alomar.
Of course Rickey wasn’t just stolen bases. He got on base and scored runs better than almost everyone in history. He hit for power. He played great defense when he was younger. Indeed, no player gets overlooked more than Rickey Henderson when it comes to the Greatest Living Ballplayer conversation. I still think it’s Willie Mays right now with Hank Aaron likely second. Your mileage may vary on Bonds depending on what you think of him, obviously. But if Rickey Henderson isn’t on your short list, I don’t wanna know you.