The Bill Chuck Files of January 12, 2020

Each Sunday, in remembrance of my friend and J.G Spink Award winner Nick Cafardo, I post “the Bill Chuck Files” (named by Nick in his Sunday Baseball Notes column)

Fewer than 75 Days Until Opening Day

This season’s March 26 Opening Day is the earliest on record for Major League Baseball. There are a few openers we should pay attention to simply because of the forecast:

  • The World Series champion Washington Nationals will be at the New York Mets. On March 26, the temperature in New York City typically ranges from 41°F to 52°F and is rarely below 31°F or above 65°F
  • The Cleveland Indians will host the Detroit Tigers. On March 26, the temperature in Detroit typically ranges from 35°F to 47°F and is rarely below 24°F or above 63°F.
  • Kansas City will visit the Chicago White Sox. On March 26, the temperature in Chicago typically ranges from 9°F to 46°F and is rarely below 29°F or above 62°F.
  • The Yankees will be in Baltimore. On March 26, the temperature in Baltimore typically ranges from 44°F to 56°F and is rarely below 34°F or above 71°F.
  • The Chicago Cubs are in Milwaukee. On March 26, the temperature in Milwaukee typically ranges from 35°F to 44°F and is rarely below 23°F or above 59°F.
  • St. Louis heads to Cincinnati, On March 26, the temperature in Cincinnati typically ranges from 40°F to 56°F and is rarely below 27°F or above 73°F.
  • Weather information is from https://weatherspark.com/.

Jeopardy Answer:

The Rangers only had 19 players who scored at least one run in 2019, last in the majors, this team led the majors with 30 different players who scored at least one.

Do you remember Kosuke Fukudome?

You must remember Kosuke Fukudome who played primarily for the Cubs (with a sprinkling of the Indians and White Sox) from 2008 (when he was an All-Star) to 2012. Fukudome was 35 when he played his last game for the ChiSox in June of 2012. Well, the veteran is still playing, these days for the Hanshin Tigers. The 42-year-old (43 in April) Fukudome is hoping to join the 2000-hit club this season, with membership consisting of only 52 players who have reached the mark solely in Japanese baseball. Fukudome has 1,897 hits in Japan and 2,395 between NPB and MLB. Fukudome also has 280 homers in Japanese ball and 42 in the States. Here’s wishing Kosuke 幸運を.

The 2019 Nationals learn from the errors of the 2018 Red Sox

After re-signing Stephen Strasburg and Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson, the Nationals have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent slugger Eric Thames and also signed Starlin Castro and Will Harris. All the Nationals moves were to improve the team and strengthen weaknesses, as opposed to rewards for singular moments of success in their successful postseason run which is what the Red Sox did after their 2018 championship season. The Red Sox did not seek to plug any holes or measure risks by the reward signings of Steve Pearce ($6,250,000) and Nathan Eovaldi (4 yrs/$68M), and extending Chris Sale (5 yrs/$145M). Even if Washington does not repeat, they have shown foresight and made some very positive moves.

Gardy Ready to Play

To no one’s surprise, the Yankees re-signed Brett Gardner to a one-year contract for the 2020 season, with a club option for 2021. The 36-year old hit .251/.325/.503 (123-for-491) with 86 runs, 26 doubles, 7 triples, 28 home runs, 74 runs batted in, 52 walks and 10 stolen bases over 141 games in 2019, setting career highs in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. He played in at least 140 games for the seventh consecutive season (2013-19), one of four Major Leaguers to accomplish the feat. he has played 1499 career games over 12 Yankee seasons (2008-19), his next appearance will make him the 18th player to play in 1,500 games for the Yankees. He needs to play 11 games to pass Alex Rodriguez on the all-time Yankee games played list and 37 games to pass Graig Nettles. There is one player who is still playing who appeared for the Yankees when Gardner made his debut on June 30, 2008. And that player is…Robinson Cano who started at second.

Gardy Ready to Manage

Ron Gardenhire, who managed the Twins from 2002-2014, and is currently the manager of the woebegone Tigers will be doing some rooting for some young Twins. Toby Gardenhire, son of the Tigers manager will manage the Twins’ Class AAA team in Rochester this season. He succeeds Joel Skinner.

The 37-year old Toby is not the only well-known offspring to join the Minnesota organization. Alex Hassan, the new director of player development, has hired Drew MacPhail as his assistant. MacPhail, who has worked in the Dodgers’ front office for the past four seasons, is the son of Andy MacPhail, the Twins’ general manager from 1986-94 who was elected to the team’s Hall of Fame in 2017, and the grandson and great-grandson of Lee and Larry MacPhail, both of whom are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Were the Red Sox cheating with a runner on second in 2018?

The Commissioner’s Office has been investigating allegations that the 2018 World Champion Red Sox, with Alex Cora at the helm, were inappropriately using technology to relay signals with a runner on second. First of all, let’s remember that this was a very good hitting ballclub, full stop. However, some of the numbers do arouse suspicion as Boston hit 18 points above league average when there was no runner on second and 45 points above league average with a runner on second.

2018 batting with the bases empty or a runner on first and/or thirdMLB averages in the header

Team BA .249 OBP .315 SLG .411 OPS .726
BOS .267 .334 .452 .786
CHC .260 .331 .414 .745
CLE .260 .330 .438 .768
TB .259 .331 .409 .740
SEA .257 .312 .415 .728
CIN .256 .325 .406 .731
COL .255 .317 .436 .753
PIT .255 .316 .408 .724
ATL .254 .318 .413 .731
OAK .254 .324 .443 .767
WSH .254 .329 .417 .747
HOU .254 .325 .418 .743
MIL .253 .320 .425 .745
NYY .251 .329 .457 .786
LAD .250 .329 .443 .772
STL .250 .318 .412 .730
MIN .247 .312 .402 .713
KC .246 .304 .394 .698
TOR .245 .309 .429 .738
CWS .244 .303 .407 .710
LAA .244 .312 .415 .726
DET .243 .299 .382 .680
TEX .242 .318 .408 .726
SF .241 .297 .374 .671
BAL .240 .297 .391 .688

2018 batting with a runner on secondMLB averages in the header

Team BA .247 OBP .335 SLG .403 OPS .739
BOS .292 .385 .484 .868
MIN .283 .369 .450 .819
HOU .279 .361 .502 .863
ATL .265 .350 .436 .786
OAK .259 .345 .442 .787
CLE .257 .341 .427 .768
STL .256 .342 .402 .744
COL .256 .355 .437 .791
PIT .250 .321 .421 .742
LAD .247 .346 .414 .760
NYY .247 .339 .427 .767
WSH .246 .357 .401 .759
CIN .244 .336 .383 .719
BAL .244 .315 .388 .703
MIL .243 .337 .403 .740
TB .242 .333 .377 .710
KC .241 .318 .388 .706
SEA .241 .321 .360 .682
MIA .241 .309 .341 .650
NYM .240 .343 .399 .742
ARI .239 .346 .402 .748
TOR .239 .323 .410 .733
CHC .235 .335 .360 .696
CWS .234 .294 .375 .669
SF .232 .323 .338 .661

Nary a triple

949 players did not hit a triple this past season, far short of the 2018 record when 1050 players did not triple. CC Sabathia ended his career with 19 triple-less seasons which is far short of Tommy John‘s 26 seasons without hitting a triple. On September 9, 2007, Russell Martin was the Dodgers starting catcher for the Dodgers who were facing the Giants. In the 7th inning, Martin tripled off Matt Cain. That was Martin’s last three-bagger, he’s gone 926 games and 3205 at bats without a triple.

Swinging and Not-Missing

Last season, Angels’ third baseman David Fletcher played in 154 games, had 653 PA, 596 AB, saw 2629 pitches, he swung at 954 pitches and missed just 93 times, a swing-and-miss rate of only 9.7%, the best in the majors. He was the only player in the majors with a contact rate of over 90 percent (90.3% to be exact). Fletcher struck out just 64 times, 47 times swinging and 17 times looking. While Fletcher only hit six homers, he was a .290 hitter.

IMHO

If Derek Jeter is elected unanimously it will be two straight seasons with a unanimous inductee. In my humble opinion, the next unanimous one will be Mike Trout.

The AL East Dominated in the Ten-Teens

When you look at the top six win totals from 2010-19, it is amazing that three of the teams were from the AL East.

RkYearTmLgWLW-L%
12010-2019NYYAL921699.569
22010-2019LADNL919701.567
32010-2019STLNL899721.555
42010-2019WSNNL879740.543
52010-2019BOSAL872748.538
62010-2019TBRAL860761.531

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

Outside of the AL East, the Yankees had 514 wins, Boston had 490 wins, and the Rays had 468 wins. Within the AL East, the Yankees had 407 wins, Boston had 382 wins, and the remarkably resilient Rays had 392 wins. Head to head, the Yankees had 196 wins, the Sox had 181 wins, and the Red Sox had 181 wins.

But the bottom line is the Red Sox were the only AL East to make it to the World Series in the TenTeens and came away with two World Championships.

Jeopardy Question:

The Rangers only had 19 players who scored at least one run in 2019, last in the majors, the San Francisco Giants led the majors with 30 different players who scored at least one.