Victor Martinez has a chance to do something rare

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Victor Martinez’s seventh-inning grand slam Wednesday gave him 89 RBI with just 10 homers this year.  He’s suddenly picked up the homer pace with two in his last three games, but he still has a good chance to become the first player since Jeff Cirillo in 2000 to drive in 100 runs with 12 or fewer homers.

Only nine players have pulled that off in the last 50 years:

1. Floyd Robinson (1962, CWS): 11 HR, 109 RBI
2. Wes Parker (1970, LAD): 10 HR, 111 RBI
3. Thurman Munson (1975, NYY): 12 HR, 102 RBI
4. Willie Montanez (1975, DET): 10 HR, 101 RBI
5. Keith Hernandez (1979, STL): 11 HR, 105 RBI
6. Tom Herr (1985, STL): 8 HR, 110 RBI
7. Willie McGee (1987, STL): 11 HR, 105 RBI
8. Paul Molitor (1996, MIN): 9 HR, 113 RBI
9. Jeff Cirillo (2000, COL): 11 HR, 115 RBI

Martinez has gotten the job done by hitting .327 and collecting 33 doubles this season.  Everyone else on the list also hit .300 with the exception of McGee, who got his 105 RBI despite a modest .285/.312/.434 line and a 94 OPS+ in the high-offense season of 1987.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images
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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.