Stat of the Day: Hits
Abbreviation: H. All Time Leader: Pete Rose (4256). Single Season Leader: Ichiro Suzuki (262 in 2004). Active Leader: Derek Jeter (3304). 2012 Leader: Derek Jeter (216).
The hit. It is the one of the simplest stats in baseball. It is the building block of offense. It is also one of the most important. Every team needs a hit man. Of course, everybody has heard of the 3000 hit club. The player who established this exclusive club was Cap Anson, also the first big RBI man (from the last blog), as he finished with 3011 hits over his 22 year career from 1876-1897. In 1886, he set a career high with 187 hits. However, no man recorded a 200 hit season until 1887, the National League's 12th year. That year, four players reached the mark: Tip O'Neill (225), Pete Browning (220), Denny Lyons (209), and Sam Thompson (203). St. Louis' Arlie Latham barely missed, finishing with 198 hits. After all that, Honus Wagner showed up and became the 3,000 hit club's second member. He finished his 21 year career with 3430 hits and twice recorded more than 200. Wagner was followed by the second greatest hit man of all time, Ty Cobb. Cobb, who posted nine seasons of more than 200 hits and led the AL in that category eight times, became the first member of the 4000 hit club in 1927. He finished with 4191 hits, averaging about 175 hits per season. In 1911, Cobb set a record with 248 hits, one that would stand until 1920. That year, George Sisler became the first of seven players ever to record 250 hits in one season, as he finished with 257. Then, in 1922, he recorded 246. By 1930, five other players, including Lefty O'Doul (1929), Bill Terry (1930), Al Simmons (1925), Rogers Hornsby (1922), and Charles Klein (1930) had all followed suit to record 250 hits in a season. In 1963, the greatest hit man of all time, Pete Rose, came along. Rose recorded 4256 hits over his 24 year career, becoming one of two players (the other being Cobb) to record 4000 hits in a career. He averaged almost 180 hits per season and recorded more than 200 hits ten times. He lead the NL in hits seven times. In 1973, he set a career high with 230, pounding his way to a neat .338 average. In the common day, there are three great hit men: Michael Young, Derek Jeter, and Ichiro Suzuki. Jeter has transcended baseball's tumultuous recent history, recording 3304 hits, including eight of more than 200. Even last year, at 38 years old, he led the majors with 216. Michael Young recorded five straight 200 hit seasons from 2003-2007, topping out at 221 in 2005. To boot, he added a sixth 200 hit season in 2011. Of course, in our day and age, above all in hits stands the great Ichiro. Despite not playing in a major league game until the age of 27, he is closing in on the 3000 hit mark and has already set numerous records. From 2001-2010, he recorded ten straight 200 hit seasons, eight of which yielded at least 212. In 2004, he broke George Sisler's 84 year old record, garnering an amazing 262 hits, enough to amount to a .372 average. With ten seasons of at least 200 hits, he is tied with Pete Rose and I know that he would like to put up another season like that.
Former Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek won the Ford Frick award for best announcer.
Free Agent Signings
Red Sox agreed to terms with Shane Victorino (11 HR, 55 RBI, .255 AVG, 39 SB, 2013 age: 32) on a three year, $39 million deal ($13 million per season).
Angels agreed to terms with Sean Burnett (1-2, 2.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2 saves, 2013 age: 30) on a two year, $8 million deal ($4 million per season).
White Sox agreed to terms with Jeff Keppinger (9 HR, 40 RBI, .325 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 33) on a three year, $12 million deal ($4 million per season).
Giants resigned Marco Scutaro (7 HR, 74 RBI, .306 AVG, 9 SB, 2013 age: 37) to a three year, $20 million deal ($6.67 million per season).
Diamondbacks agreed to terms with Eric Chavez (16 HR, 37 RBI, .281 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 35) on a one year, $3 million deal.
Rockies agreed to terms to resign Jeff Francis (6-7, 5.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 2013 age: 32) on a one year deal.
Diamondbacks also resigned Wil Nieves (2 HR, 8 RBI, .301 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 35) to a minor league deal.
The Red Sox added the missing outfielder in Shane Victorino. This effectively ends the chase for Cody Ross, as Victorino will join Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes in the outfield. The Flyin' Hawaiian is coming off of one of his worst offensive seasons, posting his lowest home run (11), average (.255), on base percentage (.321), slugging percentage (.383), and OPS (.704) totals of his career. He also set a career high in strikeouts (80). However, his 39 stolen bases were a career high. The Red Sox hope he can return to his 2008 form, when he hit 14 home runs, batted .293, and stole 36 bases. That is not an unlikely occurrence, as as recently as 2011, he hit 17 home runs and batted .279 with 19 stolen bases. The switch hitter's struggles may be due to his inability to hit from the left side. In 2008, his best year, he batted .282 from the right side and .298 from the left side. Last year, another good year, he hit .308 from the right side and .271 from the left. Last year, however, he whacked a clean .323 from the right side, but struggled to the tune of .230 when batting left handed. His power was also much higher from the right side, but that has been a career continuity. Over his career, Victorino has hit 90 home runs, knocked in 409, and batted .275 with 201 stolen bases.
The Angels added former Nationals Sean Burnett on a two year deal. Burnett, who has pitched in 354 games over his six year career, will take over the left handed set-up man role for Los Angeles. He came over in the Nyjer Morgan trade in 2009, and has been nothing but great for the Nationals. In 2010, his first full season as a Nat, despite a 1-7 record, he posted a 2.14 ERA and let opponents bat just .220. Last year was probably his second best year, when he posted a 2.38 ERA and had a 1.24 WHIP. Over his six years, he was 15-23 with a 3.58 ERA and ten saves.
Marlins traded Yunel Escobar (9 HR, 51 RBI, .253 AVG, 5 SB, 2013 age: 30) to the Rays for minor leaguer Derek Dietrich (14 HR, 75 RBI, .279 AVG, 4 SB at High Class A and AA, 2013 age: 23-24).
Astros traded Wilton Lopez (6-3, 2.17 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10 saves, 2013 age: 29-30) to the Rockies for Alex White (2-9, 5.51 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 2013 age: 24) and minor leaguer Alex Gillingham (6-8, 3.66 ERA, .260 BAA at Class A, 2013 age: 23).
This is a huge trade for Tampa Bay, because they have had a huge void in their infield ever since Jason Bartlett left. They acquired Yunel Escobar, a thirty year old Cuban shortstop, to take over from the Sean Rodriguez/Elliot Johnson/Ben Zobrist combo, allowing Zobrist to move into the outfield. Escobar was just involved in the megadeal that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson to Toronto, but the Marlins, being the shrewd organization they've become, dealt Escobar almost immediately. Escobar's best years came from 2007-2009, where he averaged ten home runs per season and batted .301. In his rookie 2007, he batted .326, then in 2009, he hit 14 home runs and batted .299 with 76 RBI. After a rough 2010 (4 HR, .256 AVG), he bounced back in 2011 with another strong season for Atlanta by hitting 11 home runs and batting .290. Last year was another rough year, as he hit just nine home runs and batted a career low .253. The Rays are hoping he can bounce back, but Tropicana Field has not been historically good to newcomers. Over his six year career, he hit 53 home runs and batted .282 with 26 stolen bases.
The Marlins got Derek Dietrich in return. Dietrich is a solid hitting second basemen out of Georgia Tech. At Class A Bowling Green in 2011, he hit 22 home runs and batted .277 through 127 games. Last year, between High Class A Charlotte and AA Montgomery, he hit 14 home runs and batted .279. Next year, he looks to report to AA Jacksonville or AAA New Orleans. He also had ten triples.