Saturday, July 28, 2007

? No. 18: Lucky World Series winner?

Today's question comes via Baseball Musings. Only one team since the inception of the modern World Series in 1903 won the world championship despite being outscored during the regular season. Was it the ...

A) 1985 Royals
B) 1987 Twins
C) 2003 Marlins
D) 2006 Cardinals

Yesterday's Answer: Jim Kaat. Oddly enough, the day his streak ended, he struck out two batters in one inning.

Friday, July 27, 2007

? No. 17: Can't buy a K

Over the last 50 years, pitcher Jack Spring holds the record for most consecutive appearances without a strikeout. He went 19 straight appearances without a K. The streak began in August of '63 while he was with the Angels, and ended in May of the following year. By that point he had been purchased by the Cubs. Over the streak, which lasted 15 innings, Spring posted a somewhat respectable 3.60 ERA.

But Spring doesn't hold the record for most consecutive innings pitched without a strikeout. That distinction belongs to a 3-time All-Star starter/reliever who also won an unbelievable 16 straight Gold Gloves and pitched well into his forties. This pitcher threw 22.1 innings without recording a strikeout in 1981 with the St. Louis Cardinals. His ERA over that span was a microscopic 1.21 and he saved 3 games. Who was he? Hint: His last name features the same vowel back-to-back.

Yesterday's Answer: C) 9. And they are...
Jaoquin Andujar: 1984-85
Roger Clemens: 1986-87; 1997-98
Tom Glavine: 1991-93
Randy Johnson: 2001-02
Greg Maddux: 1992-93
Jack McDowell: 1992-93
Roy Oswalt: 2004-05
Curt Schilling: 2001-02
Dave Stewart: 1987-1990

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

? No. 16: Winning 20 twice in a row

I have a love-hate relationship with Carlos Zambrano. The kid is a temperamental, cocky sonofabitch, traits that endear him to Cubs fans but cause just about everyone else in baseball to detest him. (Hating him is made easier by the fact that he is so good and typically puts the Cubs in a position to win.) But I still find myself enjoying the games he starts against my team (the Redbirds), because he's such a competitor. He reminds me of Joaquin Andujar in many ways. So I'll use Andujar as the basis of today's question. The feisty Dominican won 20 games in back-to-back seasons in 1984 and '85 for the Cardinals. Since the first season of his feat, 1984, how many pitchers have matched or bettered his accomplishment with back-to-back (or more) seasons with 20 wins? Is the answer:

A) 5
B) 7
C) 9
D) 11

Yesterday's Answer: It's not Willie Wilson or 24. But both are very good guesses. Wilson hit far more triples than anyone else in the 1980s, and he did peak with 21 three-baggers in 1985. And it just so happens that 21 is the correct answer. But, Wilson wasn't 30 years or older at the start of that season. He was 29. The correct answer is Lance Johnson, who hit 21 in '96 at the age of 32. Johnson posted a career-best .479 slugging percentage that season, thanks in part to also hitting 31 doubles, by far his personal best.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

? No. 15: Three-bagging 30 year-olds

Do you know who holds the record for most triples in a career? I was surprised to see the answer: Wahoo Sam Crawford, who played from 1899 to 1917 for the Reds and Tigers, collected 309 three-baggers. I already knew that during the "dead ball" era players hit a lot more triples, in part due to the distance from home plate to the fences and in part due to other irregularities in the shape and seating of ballparks. But I expected the answer to be Ty Cobb, simply because of the number of hits the man collected. Cobb is actually second, with 295.

If we look at the post-dead ball era — and for the purposes of this conversation we'll define that as post 1919 (as Ruth hit 54 homers in 1920) — Kiki Cuyler has the record for most triples hit in a season with 26 (1925). My question is this: What is the highest tally of triples hit in a single season over the past 25 years, dating back to 1981, by a player 30 years or older? (Bonus if you can guess who holds that record.)

A) 18
B) 21
C) 24

Yesterday's Answer: You can argue that Jose actually has another brother, his "Bash Brother," Mark McGwire. The answer is Ozzie and Jose Canseco, of course.

Monday, July 23, 2007

? No. 14: Baseball brothers

The Yankees just called up Shelley Duncan, son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and brother of Cardinals left fielder Chris Duncan. Shelley hit his first major league dinger the other day, and got me thinking about other baseball brothers. There's the DiMaggio brothers — Joe, Dom, and the oft-forgotten Vince. The Alomar brothers, Sandy and Roberto. The Benes brothers, Andy and Alan. Livan and El Duque. Pedro and Ramon. The Three Alous. The Catching Molina Brothers. The Drews — Tim, Stephen, and J.D. The Forschs, the Bretts, the Torres, the Giambis, the Madduxes, the Perrys, the Deans, the Ripkens, the Mays, and the Niekros. And of course, who can forget Pascual, Carlos, and Melido Perez?

Name the following pair of twin brothers. One was a 15th round draft pick, and came up in 1985. He appeared in 4 of 5 All-Star games between 1986-90. The other was a 2nd round draft pick of the Yankees, but didn't debut in the big show until 1990 (with another team). He only stuck around for 65 major-league at-bats over three brief call-ups, ending with the Cardinals in 1993. Who are we?

Yesterday's Answer: The five franchises to have never had the honor of an MVP winner are Arizona, Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos, and (drumroll) the New York Mets. That last one surprised me. The Mets have been around a long time, had some great teams, and a handful of great hitters (Strawberry and a pair of exceptional hitting catchers, Gary Carter and Mike Piazza, come to mind). Anyway, I'll go on the record now and say I bet Jose Reyes gets them their first MVP.