Whoops, I wrote this on a timely basis but it didn’t publish.
Craig Kimbrel is having an amazing season as the Red Sox closer. He has converted 23 of 25 saves, has an ERA of 1.19, and a WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 0.50. A WHIP of under 1.00 is very impressive but a half is off the charts.
Tonight against the Rays he was at his best. He pitched one inning and threw eleven pitches. Nine were strikes and he struck out all three batters. Corey Dickerson managed a foul ball for strike two and Evan Longoria stuck out on a foul tip. That was all they could manage. He is averaging 1.8 strikeouts per inning.
Closers are rarely considered for the Cy Young award but if Craig keeps this up then he deserves serious consideration. It also depends on how the starters do. In the NL, Kershaw and Scherzer had a great first half. In the AL only Chris Sale (11&4, 2.75 ERA and 0.90 WHIP), Craig’s teammate, is close having a starting season that would eliminate any closer. Craig has a chance.
The Red Sox 15-1 victory at Toronto today had at least three oddities in it.
First, Fernando Abad got a save in the blowout. Usually it has to be a close game but the save rules allow one when pitching three innings which Abad did.
Second, Glenn Sparkman had a bad day on the mound. In his second appearance, his ERA went from zero to 63 by giving up seven hits to eight batters. All seven runners scored an earned run. He was not the only Blue Jay pitcher to give up seven runs in the game but it took Biagini five-and-a-third innings to do it.
Third, Mookie Betts, the Bosox lead-off hitter had eight RBIs. We doubt that is a record but, it appears, according to MLB, to set a Sox record and tie an MLB record:
Betts became the first leadoff hitter in Red Sox history to amass eight RBIs, and the first in MLB since Ronnie Belliard for the Rockies in 2003. Only five players including Betts have accumulated eight RBIs while batting first.
The ninth place hitter had two RBIs making a total of ten for the first and ninth hitters. Go Sox!
Craig Kimbrel of the Red Sox became the 72nd or 73rd (Wikipedia is inconsistent from paragraph to paragraph) pitcher to strike out four in an inning today. Check the line here. One inning with four strikeouts and the rest zeros looks strange. Of additional note, Red Sox pitchers struck out 20 Rangers. It has to be cool to own a record that will never be broken although it will often be tied.
Jay Nordlinger got a couple of columns out out The Greatest Room In The World. Here is part two. We were surprised that he only reported a couple of sports items. We would have expected Fenway and Wrigley to be nominated but we are shocked to find out that the Plaque Gallery at the National Baseball Hall of Fame was not the most popular choice. In fact, it wasn’t mentioned.
Another place we would nominate would be the Up-The-Hill Theatre at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Here is a picture:
It is hard to get better than Shakespeare under the stars. They are rebuilding it so that it will be even better.
In 1919 Babe Ruth became the first home run leader to have more home runs than the triples leader. The situation has never reversed. Mark Perry reports that natural gas has surpassed coal for producing electric power. We agree with him that, like baseball, the change is here to stay although the difference is small enough that there could be an exception in the near future.
We think the triples analogy is useful. Both triples and coal will have less impact but both will continue to have an impact. As Perry notes, The Donald rolling back some of the previous administrations more egregious regulation will help coal. It will not change the direction that coal is headed but it will mean that coal will get a fair shake. Coal will be a second and then third fiddle just like triples for some time. Triples are part of a good offensive mix. Coal is part of a good energy mix. Neither are a leader.
Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez were elected to the baseball Hall Of Fame. Congratulations to three deserving choices. We want to react to a comment by Dan McLaughlin (The Baseball Crank) and tell a story related to his comment.
Dan goes into detail on the election and has this to say about two that just missed:
Right on the outside looking in are Trevor Hoffman (who missed the 75% threshold by just a handful of votes) and Vladimir Guerrero at 71.7% of the vote. Hoffman was one of the all-time greats among the modern closers; I’m skeptical of enshrining those guys (aside from Mariano Rivera, who was on another level and an enormous postseason force), but if you accept the idea, Hoffman’s consistency and longevity make him more than a respectable choice. There’s no conceivable reason for anyone to vote against Guerrero, a staggering talent who batted .325/.392/.581 with an average of 98 Runs, 112 RBI and 15 steals in 640 plate appearances per year from age 23-33 and cracked double figures in outfield assists seven times, but sometimes the writers just feel like making a guy wait.
We don’t buy that closers should be excluded from the Hall. Sabermetics folks have problems with closers and how managers use them. We are also reluctant to use post-season results. Many players get limited or no postseason opportunities.
Sidebar: Try saying this aloud, “A out in the six inning is the same as an out in the ninth.” Actually, don’t as folks might think you are crazy. End Sidebar.
Saying you won’t consider closers is like saying you won’t consider people who play second base. The designated hitter is a more complicated variant of this because it only exists in one of the two leagues. The best closers like Trevor should be in. They should not be penalized because of their managers. DH is more complicated because the number of players that are largely career DHers is extraordinarily small. So we support picking the best closers for the Hall but DH will need to be an individual thing because it is difficult to provide context.
We understand that first-ballot Hall of Fame is different from Hall of Fame. We want Vlad in from seeing him once. It was in Oakland and there were lots of baserunners. What we noticed was that when the ball went to right field, where Vlad was stationed, that the behavior of the Oakland baserunners was very different than when it went to the other outfield positions. Not only did the Oakland runners not try for an extra base, they clung to their current base like a barnacle to a rock. Vlad was not going to get any outfield assists versus Oakland. Great outfield arms cause non-events. Vlad was one of those. He should go in next year because he has the whole package but his throwing was first ballot for sure.
It is not a free Cuba yet but this is a step in the right direction:
Fidel Castro, the Cuban despot who famously proclaimed after his arrest in a failed coup attempt that history would absolve him, has died at age 90.
He is famously wrong but at least he is dead. Let’s hope soon that a sign of freedom is more Cuban baseball players in MLB.