Friday, July 20, 2007

? No. 13: MVP tally

Today's question revolves around the MVP award. The Yankees, with 21, have claimed move MVP award winners than any other team. Second are the Cardinals with 18. That would seem to make sense, since those two franchises are Nos. 1-2 in terms of World Series rings. I want to focus on the other end of the spectrum. Since the MVP award debuted in the 1911 season (winners: the Cubs' Frank "Wildfire" Schulte and the Tigers' Ty "The Georgia Peach" Cobb), five franchises have had a lone winner. However, five other franchises have never had a winner. Three of those franchises are probably somewhat obvious, but the other two are not. Who are all five? (By the way, when I say "franchise," the Montreal Expos count as part of the Washington Nationals franchise, since the team moved from Montreal to Washington.)

Yesterday's Answer: Listmaker was right: Eric Young was but a distraction. He did walk 5 times in a game, but he's no Gold Glover. Bonds, who has walked five times in a game on three occasions, and Helton, who has done it once, are both Gold Glove winners. But the answer is Bagwell, who also won a Gold Glove in 1994.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

? No. 12: A whole lotta walking going on

Over the past 50 years, only two players have walked six times in a single game. One of them was first baseman/designated hitter Andre Thornton, who in early May of 1984 walked six times as his Indians beat the Orioles 9-7 in a 16-inning game. Two of those were intentional walks. Oddly enough, he only scored one run, and that was due to a throwing error.

The other occurrence was in August of 1999 in another 16-inning game. This player was also intentionally walked twice and only scored one run in the game, which his team won 6-4. The opposing team was the Marlins, whose hurlers walked a mind-boggling 17 batters in the game. Starter Ryan Dempster walked 7 batters himself in 3-plus innings. Who was this Gold Glove-winning player?

A) Todd Helton
B) Jeff Bagwell
C) Barry Bonds
D) Eric Young

Yesterday's Answer: Craig Biggio. The dude could flat out hit for a catcher turned second baseman. He's past his prime now and will likely retire at the end of the year now that he's reached 3,000 hits. But in his late 20s and early 30s he was a premier second bagger — I'd even say nearly the equivalent of the vaunted Joe Morgan. He had speed, power, plate discipline — nearly the whole shebang.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

? No. 11: Grace ain't that amazing

If you didn't already know this, you'll have it beaten into your head in a couple years when Mark Grace is eligible for the Hall of Fame: No hitter in the decade of the 1990s collected more hits than Gracie's 1,754. (Raffy Palmeiro is second, just seven hits away.) Grace also paces the majors in doubles for that time span with 364. Some (Cubs) fans will argue 'til they're blue in the face that he was the best pure hitter of the decade. His average over that time span was .310, a very respectable number no doubt but still only one percentage point higher than Rusty Greer and two points lower than Jason Kendall. Average doesn't tell the whole story of course. But anyway you cut it, there were several hitters better than old Grace in the '90s. Let's see how many I can name off the top of my head: Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, Robbie Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Bernie Williams, Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, Barry Larkin, Will Clark, Ken Griffey, Chipper Jones, Albert Belle, Juan Gonzalez, Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, the aforementioned Palmeiro. Do you want me to go on?

Well, there's one more player I'd definitely add to that list, and he's the subject of this trivia question. This player is third on the list of hits for the decade of the '90s, second in doubles, twelfth in walks, eighth in steals, third in times on base, and second in runs. He went to the playoffs three times in the decade, but his team never advanced past the first round. Who is he?

Yesterday's Answer: As of the end of Saturday's games, the four major leaguers on pace to qualify for the batting crown with a slugging percentage over .600 were Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Pena (no, really), and Chipper Jones. Leading the majors in OPS was our old standby, Barry Bonds, despite a very un-Bonds like slugging percentage in the mid-.500s. (The on-base percentage near .500 sure helps.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

? No. 10: '07 sluggers

A question about this baseball season. So far, we've seen some breakout seasons from young sluggers with something to prove, guys like Hunter Pence and Curtis Granderson. In the majors — as of end of games Saturday — only four players are slugging over .600 who have played in at least 55 games (and are on track to qualify for the batting crown). Two of them are oldies, and two of them are young'uns. You win if you can guess three of the four. (No peaking at a stats sheet!)

Bonus question: None of those four guys are currently pacing the majors in OPS. Who is?

Yesterday's Answer: Giants slugger Willie McCovey went by Stretch, Mac, and Big Mac. No responses on this question. Hmmm, I thought the All-Star festivities and all the talk of his cove might have him on the tip of your tongue.