Record of the Day
Most extra-inning home runs: Willie Mays, 22.
Of the 660 home runs hit in Mays' legendary career, 22 of them, or one out of thirty, came in extra innings. This helped him to hit six walkoff home runs, of course not all of which were in extra innings. Four of Willie's 51 home runs in 1955 came in the tenth inning or later. On July 2, 1963, an interesting game was played between the Giants and Braves. Future Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal took the mound against each other, and by the 16th inning, both starters were still in the game and neither team had scored. Mays came to bat and knocked a solo blast off Spahn to win the game. It was the latest home run in terms of innings Mays had ever hit.
Free Agent Signings
Mariners signed Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (6-7, 2.42 ERA, .237 BAA in Japanese league, 2012 age: 31) to a one-year, $1.5 million deal (plus up to $3.4 million in incentives).
A's resigned Coco Crisp (8 HR, 54 RBI, .264 AVG, 49 SB, 2012 age: 32) to a two-year, $14 million deal ($7 million per season).
Angels signed Jorge Cantu (3 HR, 16 RBI, .194 AVG, 0 SB, 2012 age: 30) to a minor league deal.
Twins signed Sean Burroughs (1 HR, 8 RBI, .273 AVG, 1 SB, 2012 age: 31) to a minor league deal.
The Mariners brought on Japanese leaguer Hisashi Iwakuma, a 30-year-old right-hander to a one-year deal, checking off a starter on their offseason list. Iwakuma has seen significant success in the Japanese leagues. Iwakuma, who debuted at just 20 years old in 2001, had a breakout year in 2003 by going 15-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 27 games for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes. He was even better in 2004, posting an incredible 15-2 record to go along with a 3.01 ERA in 21 games. After a tough 2005 and injury-riddled 2006 and 2007, Iwakuma came back stronger than ever in 2008. The 27-year-old was 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA and .216 BAA for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He posted another strong season in 2009, going 13-6 with a 3.25 ERA, then dropped his ERA to 2.82 in 2010. Missing time to injury in 2011, Iwakuma could only amass 17 games, going 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA. Over his 11-year career, he was 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in 226 games in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
Padres traded Anthony Rizzo (1 HR, 9 RBI, .141 AVG, 2 SB, 2012 age: 22) and minor leaguer Zach Cates (4-10, 4.73 ERA, .244 BAA at Class A Fort Wayne, 2012 age: 22) to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner (0-0, 1.69 ERA, .086 BAA, 2012 age: 25) and minor leaguer Kyung-Min Na (0 HR, 22 RBI, .268 AVG, 20 SB at AZL, Class A SS Boise, Class A Peoria, and AA Tennessee, 2012 age: 20).
Top prospect Anthony Rizzo was the centerpiece of this deal. You may remember him as the centerpiece return of another trade, the Adrian Gonzalez deal, to the Padres last year. This deal all but takes Chicago off the Prince Fielder talks, leaving just the Nationals, Mariners, and Rangers as frontrunners. The 6'3" lefty has stepped up his game every year after appearing in all of six games for the GCL the year he was drafted in 2007. After appearing in 21 games and batting .373 for Class A Greenville in 2008, Rizzo played his first full minor league season in 2009, split between Greenville and High Class A Salem. In 119 combined games, he hit 12 home runs and batted .297. After batting .248 with five home runs for Salem, Rizzo was promoted to AA Portland, where he hit 20 home runs and batted .263 in 107 games. Overall, he hit 25 home runs with a .260 average in 136 games. He was traded to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal and began 2011 at AAA Tucson in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. In 93 games over separate stints, Rizzo tore the cover off the ball, hitting 26 home runs, knocking in 101, and batting .331 for Tucson. He was not able to convert his success to the majors, where he batted just .141 in 49 games. The Cubs also acquired 22-year-old Arkansas native Zach Cates, who was drafted in the third round in 2010. In his first year in the minors, Cates was just 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 25 starts for Class A Fort Wayne.
The main return to San Diego is 25-year-old Andrew Cashner, who was but five and a third innings into 2011 when he was injured. He debuted in 2010 at the age of 23, going 2-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 53 appearances out of the 'pen. His conversion to a starter didn't work to well in 2011, as he pitched five and a third innings in his first start, giving up just one run on two hits to the Diamondbacks, before being injured and remaining out of action until September. He made six relief appearances, going a combined five and a third innings and again giving up one run, finishing the year with a 1.69 ERA in seven games (one start). Over his two-year career, Cashner is 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA and .241 BAA in 60 games (one start). The Padres also received an interesting prospect in Kyung-Min Na, a 20-year-old Korean outfielder who played at four levels in 2011. Playing at levels ranging from the AZL to AA, Na saw much of his action at the lower three of those levels. Most of his success came in 28 games for the AZL (Arizona League), where he batted .360 and stole nine bases. He batted just .171 in 25 games for Class A Short Season Boise, but hit .258 in 28 games for Class A Peoria. He was also 0-4 in two games for AA Tennessee. Cumulatively, he batted .260 with 20 stolen bases in 83 games.
The Hall of Fame voting is approaching, with players like Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, and Jeff Bagwell as frontrunners. In my opinion, Bagwell is the only Hall worthy player. Other players, like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza may see their chances diminished by steroid usage.
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. BAA: batting average against. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage