Pace Car: Pujols, Teixeira, Lincecum, and others chase history, Gehrig, and burgers

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Plenty has been written and said about the season that Albert Pujols is having, but this nugget might be my favorite: he’s on pace for 60 HR and only 64 K. Incredible. In similar fashion, Roger Maris
only struck out 67 times during his 61-homer season in ’61. Others have
actually finished with more homers than strikeouts, notably Lou Gehrig (twice in three years: 49 HR, 31 K in 1934 and 49 HR, 46 K in 1936). Joe DiMaggio did it seven times in his career, with the craziest one coming in 1941, when he hit 30 bombs and struck out only 13(!) times.

Speaking of Yankees, Mark Teixeira is on his way to 41 HR and 43 doubles. He would become only the 34th player to have a 40-40 year (he also did it back in 2005), and the first Yankee since Gehrig (did it 3 times) in 1934.

Interestingly, the feat was accomplished 11 times from 1921 through 1940, and then didn’t happen again until Willie Stargell in 1973. Then there was another long drought until Albert Belle’s historic 50-50 season in 1995. Since Belle, 20 players have done the 40-40 thing, most recently Alfonso Soriano,
who actually reached the 40-40-40 club (41 steals to go with 46 HR and
41 doubles). Ironically, Soriano’s .911 OPS was the lowest of anyone in
this group.

(And for those wondering, Pujols is only on pace for 39 doubles).

As we pointed out in The Show this week (see below), Mark Reynolds
is in the middle of one of the most dynamic seasons ever. At this rate,
Reynolds will finish with 31 doubles, 44 homers, 113 RBI, 27 steals,
100 runs, 224 strikeouts (easily a MLB record), and 27 errors. THAT is
the definition of filling up the scoresheet.

In less spectacular fashion, Bobby Abreu has an
outside shot at putting up 100 in runs (on pace for 91), RBI (110), BB
(97), K (103), and In & Out Burgers (quantity unknown).

After fanning 10 more batters Friday night, Tim Lincecum is
on track for 289 strikeouts this year. So he’ll need to pick it up over
his last 15 or so starts to be the first guy to 300 since Randy Johnson in 2002.

Last year, Pedro Feliciano set a Mets record
with 86 appearances. He’s on pace for 90 this year, which would tie him
for sixth all-time (and the most by a lefty). The record is 104
appearances by Mike Marshall in 1974. Marshall also had three seasons of 90+ games.

Rafael Devers won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.

However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”

Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.

Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.

Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.

No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.