The Bill Chuck Files of May 26, 2019

Each Sunday, in remembrance of my friend Nick Cafardo, I post “the Bill Chuck Files” (named by Nick in his Sunday Baseball Notes column)

The Padres have won five games in a row for the second time this season, something they had done only once since 2015 (5/28 – 6/22/2017). They have not won six in a row since they won seven straight June 10 to June 17, 2013.

Hey you kids…get off of my lawn!” – Uh-oh, is this the first sign of me becoming a grumpy (grumpier) old man? I really don’t care if a homer is the third longest by left-handed hitter during the StatCast Era. I really don’t care how long all these homers are unless someone hits a homer over 500 feet or MLB institutes the NBA equivalent of the three-point shot and makes a homer over 470 feet count for an extra run. I don’t want any more headlines that start “Voit goes very, very deep” for me. Now back to my AARP emails.

The struggling Mets and the even worse Nationals met for a series recently and I was really hoping for just one thing: a Frank Lane type deal. In mid-season 1960, the Indians GM, lovingly known as “Trader Lane” sent their manager Joe Gordon to Detroit in exchange for the Tigers’ manager Jimmy Dykes. Start the trade this year with Mickey Callaway to Washington and Dave Martinez to the Mets and then start expanding the deal. Not that ridding each team of their manager will make a difference, but at least would have made each team’s season a little more interesting.

The leaders in scoreless relief appearances thus far this season are Boston’s Brandon Workman (20.0 IP), Adam Morgan of the Phils (17.0 IP), and the Reds’ Amir Garrett (19.0 IP) each with 22 blankings.

Rather than viewing a lineup as linear, think about it as a continuous circle and three teams stand out when looking at runs scored by the eighth and ninth batters in the lineup: both the A’s and the Twins lead the majors with 69 runs scored and shockingly, the number three team in the majors are the Diamondbacks with 61 runs scored in spite having a pitcher in the batting order. The Royals have only 16 runs scored by their eighth and ninth batters.

Let’s talk RBI for the bottom third of the order (7-8-9 batters). The Twins batters are crushing it with an MLB-leading 92 RBI, followed by the Yankees with 87 RBI. The Mets’ final three are next in the majors with 84 RBI (!) which accounts for five more RBI than their 4-5-6 batters have driven in this season (79 RBI).

While we’re talking about thirds – Each Saturday it’s my privilege to join the great team on the Chicago Sun-Times to write baseball in the SportsSaturday section. Yesterday, I reminded Cubs and White Sox fans that we are approaching the one-third pole of the season pointing out that there are 1480 calories in one third of a regular sized Chicago Classic deep-dish pizza. And, I added that the first third of the pizza, the second third, or the final third all have the same amount of calories. My point being, each 54-game third of the baseball season is equally important, even if you think that baseball only counts in August and September.

Both the Braves and the Red Sox have 169 extra-base hits including 74 homers. Also, each of these teams with roots in Boston have been caught stealing 11 times. Does any of this matter? No, but Nick Cafardo loved those trifectas.

Deepest sympathy to the family, friends, colleagues, and readers of Gerry Fraley. Another loss for all of us who appreciate and admire great baseball writing and writers.

When Andrelton Simmons returns from the IL he will have a 15-game road hitting streak, currently the longest active streak in the majors. The Dodgers’ Max Muncy and (former Dodger) the Padres’ Manny Machado each have 10-game streaks.

Speaking of the Padres, they are 28-24 (.538) this morning. The last time the Friars were over .500 after 52 games was in 2010 when they were 31-21 (.596). Good for San Diego, good for baseball.

Last season’s World Series MVP Steve Pearce is hitting just .175 for the Red Sox with one homer and eight RBI. With the emergence of rookie Michael Chavis (.277, 10 HR, 26 RBI) you have to think that Pearce’s roster slot is tenuous with Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia looking to return from the IL.

I’m not sold on Sale – Many pundits are professing the great Chris Sale turnaround, but I’m not yet on the bandwagon. This season, against teams below .500, Sale is 1-2 with a 4.64 ERA but with 58 strikeouts and just five walks in 33.0 IP (an 11.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Against teams .500 or better, Sale is 0-4 with a 3.68 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 13 walks in 29.1 IP (an 2.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio).

Another Red Sox note – Since Sandy Leon returned to the team on April 16, he has hit just .167, but his catching partner has hit .344. And the Sox team ERA prior to Leon’s arrival was 5.93 and it’s been 3.54 since.

The Astros bullpen has a .204 BAA, best in the majors. On the other hand, the Beltway bullpens have been battered: the Nationals relievers have a .286 BAA and the Orioles’ pen has a .274 batting average against, the two worst in the majors.

Presumably neither the Raptors nor Warriors players will be put into the position of turning down a White House visit as the short-fingered vulgarian would probably not proffer an invitation (you know the Raptors are Canadian and Golden State has impressively snubbed Trump twice). Since May 9, when a partial Red Sox team went to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Boston’s leading hitters are Rafael Devers (.379), Xander Bogaerts (.364), Christian Vazquez (.341), and Mookie Betts (.298) none of whom attended.

I’ve been looking for interesting Yankees stats or items to share other than my profound admiration for the jobs done this season by Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone. What makes it so difficult is the balanced effort shown by the team. For example, over the last seven days, the Yanks have won seven straight games but no Yankee leads the majors in any batting category. However, the Yankees lead the majors with 17 homers and eight different Yankees have homered. Over the last seven days, 10 teams haven’t even hit eight homers. During the streak, four players have three RBI, three players have four RBI, DJ LeMahieu has five RBI, Gleyber Torres has six RBI, Thairo Estrada has seven RBI, Clint Frazier has eight RBI, and Gary Sanchez has nine RBI. Balance.

Let’s end this week’s column with a shout out to Jake Marisnick who hit into a 5-4-3 triple play against the White Sox. Jake, in case you don’t know, Brooks Robinson hit into four triple plays, which is the most any player ever hit into and he’s in the Hall of Fame. And Jake, you got to the plate once again unlike Joe Pignatano, a personal favorite of mine. In my book, “Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs” I described his final at bat in the bigs;

  • It’s September 30, 1962, the final game of the first season of the New York Mets (loss #120). Backup catcher Joe Pignatano is closing out his career and Piggy hadn’t played in eight days, but Casey Stengel inserts him into this final game against the Cubs in the 6th replacing the immortal Choo-Choo Coleman behind the plate.
  • In the Mets’ 8th inning facing Bob Buhl, Sammy Drake in his last major league at bat singles.
  • Then, Richie Ashburn, in his major league grand finale, also singles.
  • Up to the plate steps Joe Pignatano who in his last major league at bat hit a liner to the Ken Hubbs at second, who threw to Ernie Banks at first and then over to shortstop Andre Rodgers at second…triple play.

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